Put Agroecology and Local Food in The Agriculture Bill
The Land Workers' Alliance needs your support to push for amendments
to support Agroecology and Local Food in the new Agriculture Bill
WHAT'S THE ISSUE
The proposed Agriculture Bill does not make reference to agroecological farming or local food.
The Bill enforces UK policy post-Brexit. It is currently being considered (until the 20th November) and then voted on over the next few months. The Bill replaces existing EU direct payments with environmental land management payments.
The EU system subsidises farmers based on how much area they own regardless of the system they use. The replacement will financially reward farmers for improving the environment.
This groundbreaking bill is a move in the right direction, however we are concerned that it needs to go further and promote whole farm systems; affordable local food at the same time as improving the environment.
It is very important that the Bill makes a direct reference to whole farm management systems so that successive governments prioritise this approach as they implement our agricultural policy. We need to transform farming systems beyond wildlife measures on the edges of fields.
Without incentives to farm, many landowners will simply stop producing food and turn their farms over to nature management. The consequences of which, will push our food security outside of our national border.
Almost everyone agrees that the purpose of an Agriculture Bill is to support the accessibility of healthy local food for everyone in the UK. Many MP's have voiced that we need a Bill, which strengthens sustainable food production, regenerates the environment, promotes healthy outcomes and supports local economies.
HOW CAN WE FIX IT
Two amendments to the Agriculture Bill were proposed to the Agriculture Bill Committee; one to support agroecology and the other to support local food. They were tabled MPs and on October 31st they were rejected due to party politics. Never has there been a more important time to take a stand.
We propose that a focus on Agroecology provides a win-win scenario. It combines the need for good food for all with the absolutely essential goals of restoring nature and mitigating climate change. Agroecology links farms to public health. By integrating farms with local communities, it creates access to fresh, affordable local food and improves public health by influencing food habits.
MPs Zac Goldmsith (CON), Kerry McCarthy (LAB) and Caroline Lucas (GRN) and many others, have expressed support for proposals promoting Agroecological farms selling healthy local food. We propose that Government supports Agroecological farming systems and therefore a balanced management of land between people and nature. We need to encourage all MP’s to bring forward and support an amendment that makes Agroecology and Local Food explicit in the Bill.
Incorporating Agroecology into the Bill will make a critical difference. In order to receive support, farms are obliged to deliver three interconnected outcomes: 1) local food, 2) environmental benefits, and 3) social benefits.
This amendment will ensure support for emerging schemes that improve whole farm systems for the benefit of the nation and the environment, including a potential transformative local food system that is accessible to all.
WHAT WE NEED FROM YOU
We believe in a better food system for all of us. We have an opportunity to have our voices heard and make lasting positive changes to UK agriculture effecting generations to come. Stand with us and send an email to your MP. Your efforts at this key point could help transform agriculture for many generations.
Simply by entering your postcode in the box below, it will lead you to a page where you can automatically send an email to your MP. Please feel free to edit the template document if you wish.
Agroecology is a term that is recognised on the highest international levels by the Committee on Food Security as being the way to feed the world. Studies by the UN have proven that industrial agriculture is depleting our land and creating enormous public health problems. The Food and Agriculture Organisation is advising that all countries take steps to transition to Agroecology. The UK can take leadership in promoting Agroecology to the rest of the world.
Agroecology is a term that is recognised on the highest international levels by the Committee on Food Security as being the way to feed the world. Studies by the UN have proven that industrial agriculture is depleting our land and creating enormous public health problems. The Food and Agriculture Organisation is advising that all countries take steps to transition to Agroecology.
The UN provides the following definition of agroecology: ‘Agroecology is based on applying ecological concepts and principles to optimize interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment while taking into consideration the social aspects that need to be addressed for a sustainable and fair food system. By building synergies, agroecology can support food production and food security and nutrition while restoring the ecosystem services and biodiversity that are essential for sustainable agriculture. Agroecology can play an important role in building resilience and adapting to climate change.’
Examples of whole farm agroecological systems are mixed farming, community supported agriculture, organic farming, pasture-fed livestock and other whole farm sustainable farming techniques that work together with measures to encourage wildlife and restore nature.
You can contact the Land Workers Alliance for the growing evidence of the benefits of agroecology. Agroecological methods can produce comparable or superior yields at lower cost with greater profitability, and sustain more diverse and nutritious diets than industrial monoculture-based agriculture. Ecologically, these systems are low-impact; they are often regenerative of biodiversity, soils and the environment.
Photo: A grower for Organic Lea by Adam Payne/LWA
THE LANDWORKERS’ ALLIANCE
The Landworkers’ Alliance is a grassroots union of farmers, growers and land-based workers with a mission to improve the livelihoods of our members and create a better food system for everyone.
We work for a future where farmers are able to work with dignity and earn a decent living, and people can access healthy, affordable food from local producers.
We are a democratic member-led union, run by producers for producers. All our policies and representation comes from farmers, growers and land-based workers who have direct experiences of the issues we campaign on.
We are members of La Via Campesina, the global movement of small-scale producers and peasant farmers.
For more, please check our website: www.landworkersalliance.org.uk
What is happening in the UK affects us all. Right now, exiting the EU means we are to create our own UK Agricultural Policy. Fundamentally, what happens is going to affect agriculture for at least the next 50-100 years. It is a real keystone moment, a decision making turning point.
Brexit has many daunting challenges, but for farming, it has opened a golden opportunity if the trade deals are conducive. Right now, MPs are debating on what’s going to happen to the support system for agriculture. They are tabling the Agriculture Bill. The LWA has been working none stop, talking to MPs, policymakers, and high-level civil servants, about what should be done.
The direct payment system that pays land owners for owning land is to end. In its place comes subsidies for environmental land management payments. Although the latter is something that we support (with positive impacts such as soil health, climate change mitigation, and increase of biodiversity etc.), something important is missing from the agriculture bill; farming.
The UK’s small-scale, ecological and family farms are at the heart of our rural culture and communities; they create employment, protect cherished landscapes and provide a huge amount of the food we eat.
The task of creating a post-Brexit ‘British Agricultural Policy’ that support producers, protects the environment and prioritises access to healthy, nutritious food for all, is a complex but essential one. It represents a great opportunity if the Government listens to the needs of all stakeholders and put in place a truly long-term plan for environmental, social and economic resilience.
Read more about our recomendations for post-Brexit policy.
Photo: LWA member
by Rebecca Laughton/LWA