Sustainable Farming Policy

Credit: Vicki Hird

Farming is at the heart of our landscapes and communities. The way we manage land is important for both farm businesses and citizens alike. How and what we farm has a considerable impact on nature, the climate, local economies and our health.

We all have a stake in the ways we produce food.

The Sustain alliance is a leading voice in pushing for an sustainable farming future in the UK.

We need to move towards farming systems that provide healthy, affordable food that is grown to high standards and which supports good livelihoods.

We see the future of farming as agroecology where farmers work within planetary boundaries to grow food that is healthy, sustainable and affordable for all.

We need resilient farm businesses that find ways to work together in a more open way, which provide good opportunities for new entrants and workers, and who operate in a fairer and farmer-focused market.

Farmers and growers should be fairly rewarded for the public goods (such as carbon sequestration, natural flood management, nature recovery) which they deliver, alongside having more control beyond the farm-gate and receiving a fairer price for the food they produce.

Healthy soil, abundant biodiversity, clean water and air, climate regulation, landscape heritage and beauty, public health, access to food, knowledge, skills and the countryside, and thriving communities are all things that farmers can and do deliver.

Policy change

Government policies and food industry practices often drive harmful production systems that degrade nature, climate and the environment, and many farmers and workers struggle to make a decent living from farming.

Regulations are failing to protect farmers and workers from unfair trading practices that are used by big players in the supply chain, such as supermarkets.

Changes in Government policy, as well as better use of public and private investment, could do much more for the benefit of everyone.

The UK must change farm support so that it rewards agroeoclogical food production and the delivery of public goods. The Government's approach to international trade deals will also have big implications for farmers, at home and abroad, and they must be based on high standards and fairness.

An agroecology future
The Sustain alliance has championed agroecology in the UK for many years alongside our members and with practioners. We believe that UK farming can transition to agroecology this decade to create a more sustainable, innovative, fair, and resilient sector.

Fringe Farming - the potential for peri-urban food growing
Sustain is delighted to launch our new Fringe Farming project to boost agroecological food production at the edge of UK cities, working in partnership with practitioners and researchers to greatly increase access to land for socially and ecologically beneficial farming close to urban communities. 

The benefits of farm diversity
The mosaic of British farming is vital for protecting landscapes and natural resources as well as rural economies and communities. The small and medium, family farm and mixed farm – which provide specific and often unrecognised environmental and social benefits – need specific policies to survive in a more liberalised market and deliver for a more diverse domestic and local marketplace.

Fruit and vegetable production
Sustain supports the work of the Fruit and Vegetable alliance, seeking to increase fruit and vegetable production and consumption, as a key way to promote public health through farming policy.

Farming for climate and nature
With farming covering three-quarters of UK land, the future of food, farming and nature are inextricably linked. Leaving the EU poses significant risks for UK environmental and wildlife policy and our commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it also provides an unprecedented opportunity to revitalise our countryside in a way that better meets the needs of people and the environment, for generations to come.

Overuse of farm antibiotics
The systematic overuse of antibiotics in human and animal medicine is undermining their ability to cure life-threatening infections in people, by creating an army of dangerous bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.

Fringe Farming - the potential for peri-urban food growing

A new project to boost agroecological food production at the edge of UK cities, working in partnership with practitioners and researchers to greatly increase access to land for socially and ecologically beneficial farming close to urban communities.

Fringe Farming


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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

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