Category Archives: Sustainable farming

Food insecurity and the climate crisis are grounds to reframe thinking around land in the UK

This post is by the journalist and author Peter Hetherington.

We are reaching a pivotal moment, a crunch time for food security in a UK which produces barely 60 per cent of the crops it needs. An acute shortage of both HGV drivers, and people prepared to pick veg and fruit (EU nationals now largely denied access to Brexit Britain) has, once again, exposed the fragility of just in time delivery to supermarkets.  It’s a system developed for car assembly plants but ill-suited to the vagaries of food distribution across long distances.

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The new Sustainable Farming Incentive explained

This post is by Jonathan Baker, deputy director for programme policy, engagement and strategy in Defra’s future farming and countryside programme.

It’s the look of excitement that gets you. Working with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), I and other Defra officials are talking to civil servants around the world about how, in the run up to COP26, our reforms to agricultural policy in England represent a model for other nations to address the nature and climate crises.

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Four important messages from the National Food Strategy about how we can ‘have it all’

Right now, the UK food system as a whole is bad for our health, bad for nature and the climate and, on top that, it is not even offering an economically sustainable livelihood for most farmers. The National Food Strategy, out today, sets out an integrated plan for how we can turn these problems around. Its insights on farming and land use are particularly exciting because they show how we can ‘have it all’: healthy food, as well as restored nature, carbon sinks and sustainable farm businesses.

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With or without a meat tax, a new vision for livestock farming is needed

Have you stopped eating meat for some meals or started a plant-based diet? If so, you are part of a growing trend. Two weeks ago, a leaked draft of the forthcoming National Food Strategy included the suggestion that a meat tax might be needed in the future to help it along, to cut UK carbon emissions and improve people’s health. Meat taxes have been proposed before, and were rejected by the prime minister. But other developments are already driving changes in our diets. One way or another we will be eating less meat in future and a new vision for an economically and environmentally sustainable livestock sector is needed.

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Net zero: an update from the environment, food and rural affairs committee

Green Alliance is tracking the UK’s net zero policy progress in key areas of government throughout this year. This week we are featuring a series of daily blogs in which we hear from the chairs of five parliamentary select committees, who answer our questions about the progress being made in their committee’s area of interest. This post is by Neil Parish MP, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

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We need to bring back beavers to help meet our environmental goals

This post is by Sir Roger Gale, MP for North Thanet and parliamentary species champion for beavers.

Native to Britain, beavers once created and maintained a rich network of wildlife-rich habitats across these isles. They are both a keystone of ecosystems and a cornerstone of our natural heritage. Hunted to extinction 400 years ago, evidence from beaver reintroductions in recent years has been conclusive: the benefits significantly outweigh the limited and manageable costs. The government’s forthcoming strategy for managing wild beavers must enable this historic species to repopulate suitable areas and once again engineer life into the English countryside.

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It’s time to link food, nature and climate policy

This post is by Jessica Sinclair-Taylor, head of policy and media at Feedback.

A recent letter, organised by Nourish Scotland and signed by a number of organisations (including Feedback) and city governments, has asked COP26 President Alok Sharma to clear some space for food system debates on the agenda at the Glasgow climate summit this year. As the letter points out, the intimate links between nature, cutting and storing carbon, and food production, are not receiving the attention they deserve.

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The government has chosen to seriously harm nature by letting farmers use neonics again

This post is by Matt Shardlow, chief executive of Buglife. It is an extract of a longer piece published by Buglife.

Last Friday, just when journalists were clocking off and the Saturday papers were being compiled for print, Defra announced it would allow farmers to once again use environmentally destructive neonicotinoid seed treatments on sugar beet.  This small administrative decision has huge environmental repercussions. It is seen by the public as a bellwether environmental issue, and also highlights profound inadequacies in pesticide decision making.  No wonder the announcement was made at the most muffled moment in the government’s weekly media diary.

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The government is paving the way to a megafarm future

In 2018 I carried out a series of interviews with family farms in the North York Moors. I was researching what impact the twin changes of leaving the EU and transitioning to a ‘public money for public goods’ subsidy system could have on their lives. Those I visited welcomed me with open arms and, although many had struggled in recent times, they were keen to make the new system work. And we need this system to work. A new RSPB report reveals a “lost decade” for British wildlife. Restorative land use takes time, so we really don’t have many more opportunities to get it right.

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The Fisheries Bill is at risk of harming the UK’s marine environment

This post is by Oliver Tanqueray, co-ordinator of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition in the UK.

Responsible businesses buy responsibly sourced seafood, but many UK fisheries don’t meet the sourcing standards of the country’s biggest buyers. That’s why the members of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition are desperate to see change. In a letter to government, leading supermarkets, brands and processors recently highlighted the importance of sustainable fishing limits, remote electronic monitoring of vessels and responsible management of shared stocks.

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