Tag Archives: farming

Done right, new natural capital markets offer big opportunities for businesses and farmers

There are big changes afoot for agriculture and land use in the UK. Imperatives to halt climate breakdown and the decline of nature have led to a growing number of government targets requiring more action in the coming years. These targets cover a spectrum, including a legally binding aim for a net zero carbon economy and the mission to end nature decline by 2030, as well as commitments to protect 30 per cent of land for nature and reduce methane emissions by 30 per cent, also by 2030.

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Farming reform is a big post-Brexit prize we should be careful not to lose

The government’s plans for farming in England have taken a kicking. In October, the NFU opposed reductions to the Basic Payments Scheme, and called for delay to the roll out of the new Environmental Land Management scheme (ELM). But many environmentalists see the first tranche of this new scheme, the new Sustainable Farming Incentive announced in December, as basic payments reheated. It was condemned by the National Trust, RSPB and Wildlife Trusts for ignoring “the important links between farming, climate and nature”.

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Defra’s plans to support farmers could be good but we just don’t know enough to say

This post is by Jenna Hegarty, deputy director of policy at the RSPB.

Sir Dieter Helm recently said “Never have we needed nature-friendly farming as much as we do now”. With a decade to act on climate and nature, to avoid irreversible breakdowns, we don’t just need a farming system that minimises its environmental impact, it also needs to be net positive for nature.

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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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Clean Air Day: nitrogen pollution from agriculture has been overlooked for far too long

This post is by Jenny Hawley, policy manager at Plantlife International.

Across the UK today, thousands of people will be raising awareness about the need to reduce air pollution. Most will be rightly and primarily motivated by the damage caused to our health, particularly children’s health. Yet tackling air quality can also help us to tackle the nature and climate crisis, and lead to a more sustainable food and farming system. 

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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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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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