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Consensus on a way forward for farming and the environment

The Sustain alliance joined farmers and environmental organisations at the Oxford Real Farming Conference in calling for farm policy outcomes that recognise that food security and environmental protection go hand in hand and that we can tackle the nature, climate, and public health crises through a farm system based on diversity. The consensus document is published today and can be read here.  

Hawkwood Nursery – Chingford, London. Credit: Organiclea

Hawkwood Nursery – Chingford, London. Credit: Organiclea

A group of farmers and environmental organisations came together around the 2023 Oxford farming conferences in January to forge consensus on a way forward for farming, recognising the huge pressures that many farming sectors are currently experiencing. This consensus rests on a shared understanding that:

  • A healthy natural environment underpins food security. 
  • Farming does not just produce the food we eat but is also central to efforts to tackle the nature, climate, and public health crises.
  • Diversity - in nature, in farming systems and amongst those involved in farming - along with diversity in farm animals and crops, will enable resilience and innovation in the face of climate change and economic challenges.

From the meeting a common declaration emerged, and the informal grouping invites further discussion and engagement on this. It is vital to find common ground and show solidarity across farming, food, and environmental interests so that policy makers and supply chain actors can have the confidence to act in ways that will support a vibrant future for food, farming and nature, in service of our citizens. Much great work is already being done by farming businesses, governments and NGOs, but we need the economic and regulatory frameworks that will ensure all food production meets the needs of people and planet.

The Sustain alliance will continue to work with all stakeholders to press for policies that deliver good outcomes. 

Supporting organisations (in alphabetical order):

  • CPRE (Tom Fyans Interim CEO)
  • Foundation for Common Land (Chris Short Chair)
  • Green Alliance  (Shaun Spiers CEO)
  • National Trust (Harry Bowell Director Land and Nature)
  • Nature Friendly Farming Network (Martin Lines Chair, along with the chairs of the country NFFN groups)
  • Pasture for Life (Johnnie Balfour Chair or Jimmy Woodrow CEO)
  • Rare Breeds Survival Trust (Chris Price CEO)
  • RSPB (Beccy Speight CEO)
  • Soil Association (Helen Browning CEO)
  • Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming (Kath Dalmeny CEO)
  • The Food, Farming and  Countryside Commission (Sue Pritchard CEO)
  • The Wildlife Trusts (Craig Bennett CEO)
  • Wildlife and Countryside Link (Richard Benwell CEO with backing from Wales Environment Link and Scottish Environment Link)
  • Woodland Trust (Darren Moorcroft CEO)
  • WWF-UK (Kate Norgrove Executive Director of Advocacy & Campaigns)

Farmers, land managers and others who are supporting the initiative with quotes or otherwise:

  • Hywel Morgan - NFFN Cymru Chair
  • Sam Kenyon - NFFN Cymru Vice Chair
  • Anthony Curwen - NFFN England Chair  
  • James Robinson - NFFN England Vice Chair
  • Denise Walton - NFFN Scotland Chair
  • Phil Knott - NFFN Scotland Vice Chair
  • Michael Meharg - NFFN Northern Ireland Chair
  • Helen Keys - NFFN Northern Ireland Vice Chair
  • Craig Livingstone, Lockerley
  • Jake Fiennes, Holkham

Support also from Professor Julia Aglionby and Professor Tom MacMillan who are helping the initiative in a professional/academic capacity.

The full document can be read here

Published 18 Jan 2023

Sustainable Farming Campaign: 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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