Meat production projects win Agri-Tech Catalyst support

Poultry testing

A whole supply chain approach to campylobacter is among four meat- and fish-related projects that have been awarded funding as part of the governments Agri-Tech Catalyst scheme.

In total, 24 food projects will receive a share of the 16 million (m) fund which has been created to help improve global food production and security. The projects will receive between 200,000 and 1.5m each.

The recipients include a whole supply chain approach to control campylobacter involving Moy Park, Devenish (NI), Primer Design, the University of Lincoln, the University of Liverpool, Slate Hall Veterinary Practice and St Davids poultry team. The study will conduct the largest-known molecular study to track and trace campylobacter through the supply chain. It will deploy whole genome sequencing on a massive scale to optimise a series of on-farm and factory interventions that reduce the contamination of whole chickens with campylobacter. These interventions include novel animal feeds and factory processes.

It will also develop a new qPCR testing kit for campylobacter. This will be deployed and validated on-farm and in factories. The kit will be developed to segregate live from dead cells and it is hoped it will provide the industry with a real time and accurate rapid enumeration technique.

Other meat- and fish-related projects include one worked on by Scotlands Rural College (SRUC), Innovent Technology; Agri EPI and J Sainsbury to provide early detection of tail-biting in pigs. It hopes to use 3D video to measure tail posture that can warn farmers so they can intervene earlier.

Ace Aquatec and Bristol University also received a portion of the funds for their work on a new method of humane electrical stunning of farmed fish.

A project by Texel Sheep Society; Anglo Beef Processors (ABP) and Scotlands Rural College (SRUC) to provide carcase trait phenotype feedback for genomic selection in sheep was also successful in receiving part of the fund.

This livestock genomics project addresses key issues in primary livestock production by collecting, analysing, and exploiting state-of-the art genomic and new phenotypic data from meat sheep on hard-to-measure (HTM) traits, combining carcase and disease for sustainable sheep improvement.

Life Sciences Minister George Freeman said: Agri-tech is fast becoming a big global business, creating major investment and export opportunities for the UK. Whether extending the availability of UK apples to controlling the infection of cacao plants in Ghana, these innovative projects demonstrate the UKs leadership in developing technologies and companies that will improve food and farming productivity in this country and around the world.

Farming Minister George Eustice added: Although there has been great pressure on farm incomes over the past 12 months, I believe the industry has a good future and technological advances will help. Farmers have an essential role in building a strong economy and feeding the nation.

Taking innovations from the laboratory to the farm is key to boosting productivity, and tackling pests and diseases. That is why the government supports projects through our Agri-Tech Strategy.

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