A Step in the Right Direction for UK Farming

The Food, Farming and Countryside Commission (FFCC) has published Farming for Change: mapping a route to 2030. The report introduces new research showing agroecology can produce enough healthy food for a future UK population and explores how this new technical modelling challenges and develops our thinking about a new food and farming system.

The research also addresses the big questions: How do we feed a growing population, healthily? Respond to a changing climate? Create a resilient, secure and fair farming system? Tackle the nature and health crises?

Farming for Change: mapping a route to 2030explores these questions in detail and reveals the research that shows that, with the right enabling conditions, we can grow enough healthy food for a future population while

  • eliminating synthetic fertilisers and pesticides
  • nearly doubling amount of land available for green and ecological infrastructure (ponds, hedges, meadows etc.)
  • releasing 7.5% of current agricultural area for more flexible use
  • reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture by at least 38% by 2050 (with potential to offset 60%+ of remaining emissions through an afforestation scenario)
  • all without compromising food security or offshoring food production and the associated environmental impacts.

In its 2019 report Our Future in the LandFFCC argued that “farming can be a force for change, with a transition to agroecology by 2030”. Its new report, Farming for Change: mapping a route to 2030, published on 7 January 2021, provides further signposts for that route, through the difficult and sometimes polarising arguments about how best to solve the intertwined climate, nature and health crises.

Farming for Change: mapping a route to 2030 introduces new technical modelling from research institute, IDDRI, which provides evidence that, with the right enabling conditions, an agroecological system can provide enough healthy food for a growing UK population. This initial paper explores how the model challenges and develops our thinking about agroecology in the UK and focuses on five critical areas: diet, carbon, livestock, productivity and nature. By focusing on these areas, the report starts to answer some key questions of our time: is it possible to provide enough nutritious food for people through agroecological farming alone? What impact would this have on land use, nature, biodiversity, livestock, farming enterprises, food security? What about health and wellbeing and meeting net zero carbon targets? The report suggests changes that can be made now (with ‘no regrets’) and explores where further analysis and discussion is needed in order to balance different interests and hear a wider range of voices.