In a briefing published on 3 February, the Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) voiced its continued concerns about the Government’s new Agriculture Bill.
Stating that it ‘welcomed’ the publication of the revised Bill, the SFT explained it wants to see a ‘whole farm approach’ to the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMs) – an approach it says would help ‘integrate efficient and sustainable food production with nature-friendly farming practices’.
The Government is missing an opportunity to support a mainstream shift to more sustainable farming
In its response, the organization said it is ‘delighted’ with the inclusion of soil health within the Bill and that while it welcomes the ‘mention of agroecology’, it would like to see that further developed.
The SFT outlines two proposed amendments to the Bill as:
- To provide specific support to farmers during and after the transition to agroecological methods
- A commitment that the same sustainability standards required of UK farmers would be applied to all imported food under any future trade deal, in order to maintain the competitiveness of food production in the UK.
Patrick Holden, chief executive of the SFT, explains: “We remain concerned that by too tightly focusing the support on environmental objectives in a way where most of them do not link food production with nature conservation, the Government is missing an opportunity to support a mainstream shift to more sustainable farming, while potentially undermining the viability of UK agriculture with cheap imports.
“By only rewarding specific environmental practices rather than an integrated approach, farmers are not being incentivized to introduce sustainable farming practices across the whole farm. Instead the piecemeal nature of the Bill could end up simply supporting some farmers to become caretakers of wildlife pockets within a continuing desert of intensive agriculture.”