Sustainable Farming Policy

Credit: Vicki Hird

Sustain / Sustainable farming policy

Agriculture covers about 70% of the UK's landmass. It plays a central role in much of our history and rural cultural traditions. How and what we farm has a considerable impact on the climate, biodiversity, communities and our health.

The Sustain alliance has been 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.

Farmers can gain an array of benefits from transitioning into agroecological farming systems that work with nature. This can include: improving soil health, reducing input costs, better drought and flood tolerance; enhancement of ecosystem services (pollination, pest predation); more stable income; better margins; and, greater job satisifaction.

Farmers, growers and land managers should be fairly rewarded for the public goods they deliver - from carbon sequestration, to nature recovery and natural flood managment.

To enable this future, we also need equitable supply chains and routes to market that pay farmers fairly, prioritise the production of healthier food and which make food affordable. These supply chains need to share the values of a climate/nature friendly, healthier and fairer future for all.

Yet government policies and food industry practices still often drive harmful production systems and many farmers and farm workers are struggling to make a decent living. Despite some new measures policy is still failing to protect farmers from unfair trading practices of big players in the supply chain, such as supermarkets, and our health, soils, bees and smaller farmers are in trouble.

Changes in government policy, public investment and private investment, could do much more to help for the benefit of everyone.

Being in the European Union has meant UK farm policy was largely designed under the framework of the Common Agricultural Policy. Brexit means that the UK must now take control of how it supports and sets standards for farming. The UK’s approach to international trade deals will also have big implications for farmers, at home and abroad.

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Sustainable farming policy: Sustain encourages integration of sustainable food and farming into local, regional and national government policies.

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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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