We are experiencing a climate crisis that is destroying our planet. Here in the UK we are living witnesses to a globally repeated pattern of; the extinction of wildlife, habitats and biodiversity, and the decline in the health and species range in our oceans and soils; to more frequent and intense extreme weather events, such as flooding and drought. We must make changes now to halt this spiral of destruction before the tipping point - the point of no return, is upon us.
Amidst the tumultuousness of our climate crisis, here in the UK, we face a second unprecedented situation – Brexit. If the UK leaves the EU one of the many significant changes will be the end of the EU funded Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
Introduced in 1950 the CAP was designed to implement a system of agricultural subsidies, and is now the subsidy our farmers currently receive through the Single Farm Payment (SFP). In the most simplified terms, farmers are paid for the amount of farm land they own. The impending loss of this subsidy to UK farmers has significant implications for UK farming practices and the future of farming.
Alongside this, the prevalent current practices of UK farming contribute to our carbon emissions – from methane production from livestock, through to the use of pesticides, herbicides, slurry production, and so on. Yet our agricultural industry has the unique opportunity to be transformed from a net carbon producer to a carbon sink, through, among other things, carbon sequestration, precision farming, or rewilding areas back to natural habitats. There is an ambition, amongst some pioneering UK farmers, to move towards net zero farming emissions by 2040, and to do this whilst remaining financially viable and producers of high welfare, nutritious food.
This ecological and sustainable shift will require changes in how farmers are incentivised, their farming processes and how they are financially rewarded.
Within this context, we are pleased to launch ‘The Future is in Our Lands’ - a new event series to run between October and June, 2019-2020, at the University of Bath.
Through public lectures and panel debates, this series seeks to engage with experts, advisors, policymakers, the farming community and the public and aims to discuss how we use and manage our land, the future of UK farming and how we can increase and protect the range of biodiversity in our ecosystems.
The series will also explore how we can grow, distribute, and eat food, which provides healthy and affordable nutrition, whilst restoring ecosystems, and the livelihoods of UK farmers.
We believe now is the time to take action, for the protection of our environment for now and for future generations.
The line-up includes:
The future of UK farming and food production, 19 November 2019. Speakers: Patrick Holden (Founding Director and Chief Executive of the Sustainable Food Trust); Joanna Lewis (Policy and Strategy Director at the Soil Association); Jo Edwards (Owner and Farmer at Castle Farm Organics); Jack Farmer (Co-Founder of LettUs Grow).