Farming is at the heart of our rural and peri-urban landscapes and communities. The way we manage land and farm is important for climate, nature, our health, communities, farm businesses, and citizens alike.
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 our food system is sustainable, resilient, fair, decentralised, cooperative, and democratic.
Farmers and growers receive a fair price; workers receive the real living wage with best working conditions and rights; and all citizens being able to afford healthy and culturally appropriate food.
Space is made for new entrants and a pathway is there for people from a diversity of backgrounds to work and be part of the food and farming system. Knowledge and information is freely shared and open to all.
Farmers and growers are rewarded and paid for delivering multiple public goods that benefit people and planet; from carbon sequestration and abundant nature to healthy food and beautiful accessible landscapes.
Farmers and workers alike have more power and control within a food system that is decantralised and with more local routes to market, connecting communities and local food producers and suppliers together.
The farming and food system is at the heart of community wealth building across the UK and is part of the national agenda. The UK working with the international community to instil fairness, resilience and sustainability in the global food system.
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.
Agriculture Act 2020
This landmark piece of legislation passed through Parliament in 2020. Sustain coordinated the alliance response to it.
Environmental Land Management and the agricultural transition
Farming support payments are a distinct part of future farming policy. Since the EU Referendum, there has been a welcome shift towards public money being used to deliver public goods, rather than direct payment support for simply owning land. This premise is now embedded in the Agriculture Act 2020 and is the foundation of Environmental Land Management (ELM), and now we want to see agroecology play a leading role in farming schemes.
Agri-food standards in trade deals
Protecting and improving agri-food standards is something backed by the British public. Future international trade deals could undermine UK farming businesses and lead to health risks. That is why Sustain will continue to lobby on behalf of maintaining standards in law.
What is agroecology?
The practices and principles that underpin agroecology come from indigenous farmers and communities. More recently, it has gained interest globally in response to the climate and nature emergency. The Food and Agriculture Organisation worked with countries to set out 10 key elements of agroecology.
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.
Agroecology and policy
UK farming policy is in the process of changing. The introduction of public money for public goods and new legislation like the Agriculture Act and Environment Act have pushed this. How can the UK Government support the transition to agroecology to deliver on environmental, social, and economic needs?
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.
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.
There has been insufficient government action to tackle the labour shortage crisis in farming. We need a plan to make jobs attractive with good pay, benefits, and conditions, so that people see a career in farm work.
Fair dealing and regulation
The UK's food supply chain is inherently unfair towards farmers and workers. The consolidation of the retail market, as well as the dominance of large intermediaries in the supply chain, drive this.
Pipers Farm: A livestock farmer-focused supply chain case study
Thirty years ago Pipers Farm was a 50-acre, permanent pasture farm in Devon where Peter and Henri Greig raised their two boys and reared native Red Ruby Cattle, which they sold to customers through their butcher’s shop on the local High Street.
Soul Farm: A CSA farmer-focused supply chain case study
Set up in 2019, Soul Farm has been going from strength to strength as a CSA farm, using agroecological techniques and building trusted relationships with the local community.
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.
Horticulture Strategy ditched: a massive backward step for the fruit and veg we need
9 May 2023
A tale of two counties: Strengthening local food cultures through mapping supply chains in East Sussex and Lancashire