Six game-changing ideas for the future of UK farming policy.
On Monday 20 March, the Soil Association launched a new report, setting out six proposals for domestic agricultural policy after the UK leaves the EU. These are game-changing ideas that have the potential to transform farming and land use at the scale and pace required to meet multiple challenges - from tackling climate change and nature degradation to supporting rural livelihoods and improving public health. Every farming practice we talk about here already happens on the ground in the UK, but is currently the exception rather than the norm.
Our proposals are:
- a national agroforestry strategy
- investing in soil
- a tipping point for organic
- a good life for farm animals
- support for farmer innovation
- making the most of public procurement
There is a growing consensus on some of the key principles that should underlie new policy:
- We need to maintain high environmental and farm animal welfare standards.
- Public money should pay for public goods such as clean water, farmland wildlife, carbon storage and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Government should maintain the overall annual farm payment budget of around £3.2 billion.
- We need a joined up approach that looks at land in the round – farming, forestry, water, wilderness – taking account of public health, food poverty and international development.
- Policies must work for farmers and growers, and help them move towards sustainable business models.
- We need a renewed focus on supply chains to improve resilience, farmer incomes, and environmental sustainability.
- Public participation in debate and decisions on the future of farming is critical.
What we really need now are some game-changing ideas – ideas that have the potential to transform the UK’s farming and land use on the scale and pace required.