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Investing for positive change and the FFCC’s Farming Smarter report

Farming needs to change to help tackle the climate, nature, public health, and economic crises of today’s world, while adapting and building resilience to a changing climate in the future. For an agroecology in the UK to become a reality, investing in that future is key.

Credit: Pixabay

Credit: Pixabay

As we outlined in our blog on finance for agroecology, better and fairer finance can help farmers transition away from conventional practices and towards agroecology systems. In their ‘Farming Smarter’ report, The Food, Farming and Countryside Commission (FFCC) has proposed that government create an Agroecology Development Bank to provide those investment opportunities.

Farming Smarter: Investing in our future

Why? Currently, some farmers and growers can access money through traditional bank loan routes. However, it is quite an exclusive avenue that is mostly workable for larger farms only, therefore leaving smaller producers, many tenants and contractors, and new entrants behind.

By providing an avenue for public and private investment that aims to be fairer and more operable for those groups, farmers and growers can make changes with reduced risks. This is important, as making on-farm changes of this magnitude holds risk, so allowing businesses to test out ways of working on their land will more likely lead to success. This can help with business planning and forward looking, minimising risk, and incentivising people to start their journey to agroecology.

As the FFCC explains, “A new mission-driven national institution can play a broader role in overcoming ‘lock-ins’ that impede systems change, and it can drive a transition to agroecology at the pace and scale required to meet the UK’s societal goals, in particular the need to transition to a net zero carbon economy.”

The report sets out four key features of an Agroecology Development Bank:

  1. A mission-oriented mandate, pro-actively steering finance towards agricultural practices and businesses that deliver positive societal benefits
  2. The provision of the full spectrum of finance from grants, equity and debt, working primarily through financial intermediaries and with some direct financing
  3. The promotion of the comprehensive regional distribution of financial products through regional presence and partnerships with financial and business advisory institutions at both regional and national levels
  4. A knowledge leadership role to improve methods of valuation and measurement of economic, social and environmental impacts of farming based on robust evidence.

Vicki Hird, head of Sustainable Farming at Sustain says:

“We have the information and tools to had to start making an agroecological transition a reality, and financial support for farmers and growers is a crucial element of that. By investing in on-farm infrastructure, advice and skills, business planning, and changes to farming land management practices, farmers and growers can successfully adapt their business and be part of the solution to the climate, nature, public health and economic crises we are facing.”

You can find the full report here.

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

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