09 June 2022
'Food security just as important as the environment'
A PROPER agricultural policy is key to UK food security, which should be as great a focus for its government as environmental schemes, growers and agricultural experts stated at a recent event.
Savills’ Emily Norton and NFU president David Exwood (pictured) were amongst those calling for better government focus at a recent 'Code Green For Farming' theatre session at the Cereals event.
Emily said it was up to individual farm businesses to make sense of policy.
“There is no magic potion. It is about how they manage risk and make their business sustainable," she said. "The Government’s vision about how to run food policy and environmental protection side by side is lacking – leaving a void which farmers are trying to fill for themselves. They can go hand in hand but Government has a role to play in setting the vision for where the trade-offs lie.”
Agricultural policy is about so much more than ELMs, David added. “We need to see the full picture and work with the Government to succeed. We are not there yet. The Government needs to trust farmers and work with them to deliver a workable policy. The Ukraine war has led to better conversations between NFU and Government, not just Defra.”
In November 2020, Defra announced a plan which included information on the Environmental Land Management focus. It included three focus points:
1. Sustainable Farming Incentive, which will support approaches to farm husbandry that deliver for the environment, such as actions to improve soil health, hedgerows and integrated pest management,
2. Local Nature Recovery, which will pay for actions such as creating, managing or restoring habitats, natural flood management and species management,
3. Landscape Recovery, which will focus on landscape and ecosystem recovery through projects looking to achieve large-scale forest and woodland creation, peatland restoration, or the creation and restoration of coastal habitats, such as wetlands and salt marsh.
Early roll-out of these core elements was to take place from 2022-2024. Its Farming Investment scheme is aimed at improving productivity in agriculture, supporting investment in equipment, technology, and infrastructure.