Farming and conservation organisations present a joint vision for food, farming and nature

Farming and conservation organisations present a joint vision for food, farming and nature
This shared vision was shaped by meetings at the 2023 Oxford farming conferences

A new declaration, co-created by farmers and conservationists, outlines intentions to align outcomes for food production, nature, and people across the UK agricultural landscape. A united outlook from organisations ranging from the RSPB, Woodland Trust and WWF to the Campaign for Rural England, Soil Association and Food, Farming & Countryside Commission provides hope for a future farmed landscape richer in nature and producing food sustainably and regeneratively. We welcome the emphasis that nature and farming are interdependent and the valuation of outputs beyond food from the agricultural system.

The declaration centres on three key understandings:

  1.  A healthy natural environment underpins food security.
  2.  Farming is central to tackling the nature, climate and public health crises, alongside food production.
  3.  Diversity in nature, farm systems and the people running these systems is key to resilience and innovation in the face of future environmental and economic challenges.

The vision aims for farming to work with nature and emphasises that nature recovery and action on climate change can occur in synergy with food production. Regenerative soil management will improve soil health and reduce the dependence on artificial fertilisers, as well as increasing its capacity to support nature and sequester carbon. Enhancing natural ecological processes will also support a transition away from the use of agrochemicals. Strategic technological investment will help to facilitate this shift in the UK food production system.

The success of this vision depends on key enablers. For the farming sector to tackle the climate and nature crises alongside food production, farmers must be rewarded for the delivery of public goods beyond food. Alongside public money, there are opportunities to harness private finance, but well-regulated ecosystem service markets are needed to ensure this investment is optimised for maximum environmental benefit. Regulation must ensure farm businesses of all kinds can act for nature within a level playing field and maintain competitiveness within global markets. High environmental and animal welfare standards for trade are also crucial, to ensure that UK standards are protected and contribute to raising standards globally.

By highlighting the key synergies between nature recovery and food production and the enablers for action, this vision provides a pathway to improved ecological health and resilient food production across the UK’s agricultural landscape.

“Everywhere we go we meet farmers who want to do the right thing for nature alongside producing the healthy food we all need. We both hear ambition, willingness and a real “can-do” attitude to finding solutions to the current crises. Now, more than ever, everyone needs to work together to find common ground and forge a grassroots consensus on a way forward.” Beccy Speight, RSPB CEO and Helen Browning, Soil Association CEO.

Read the full report titled: A Consensus on Food, Farming and Nature to learn more.