Agroecology conference


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14 April 2022
George Eustice to address agroecology conference

ENVIRONMENT, food and rural affairs secretary of state George Eustice will address delegates at the Soil Association’s Nature, Net Zero and Food Security agroecology conference in London on April 28th and will answer questions on the role that agroecological, nature-friendly farming could play in future farming policy.

The conference will examine the evidence for how agroecological farming practices can restore nature, cut farming emissions, and feed everyone a healthy diet. It will explore the economics and politics of making this a mainstream farming transition. Attendees will include those shaping and influencing policy on agriculture and food transition and speakers will include senior policy makers, farmers and NGOs.

The discussion will focus on solutions for nature ahead of the Kunming COP15 UN biodiversity conference and is linked to a Scottish Parliamentary Reception in May 2022 - both are part of the Soil Association’s Ten Years for Agroecology programme.

The conference has a distinguished list of speakers and panellists, and begins with a speech from Professor Tim Benton, research director at policy institute Chatham House, who will introduce the latest analysis of the links between sustainable agriculture and sustainable food systems.

This will be followed by a panel session exploring the compatibility of agroecology with food security in the context of the Ukraine invasion and the rising commodity and input prices. This will also examine how agroecological farming can spare sufficient land for nature to reverse biodiversity loss, the opportunities and risks of natural capital markets, and the prospects for a ‘farmer-led tree revolution’.

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The afternoon session will present research findings showing how agroecology can stack up economically – on the farm or at a macro level and what the farms of the future might look like. Farmers will give a view on how they can be supported by a policy framework which rewards them for public goods in a whole farm approach.

The conference will conclude with a prestigious ‘panel of peers’ - Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle; Baroness Young of Old Scone; Lord Curry of Kirkharle; and Lord Deben. They will offer a perspective from Parliament on how policy can ensure a joined-up response to climate, nature and resilient food production goals and how the National Food Strategy’s bold ambition for more sustainable food and farming can be translated into effective policy support.

Soil Association head of farming and land use policy Gareth Morgan said: “We have a packed agenda in which we will be seeking to answer the question: Can agroecological farming square the circle when it comes to nature, net zero and food security?

“As we face a cost-of-living crisis and significant pressure on farming and food prices, the discussion will examine what transformative changes will be needed to resolve the climate, nature and health crises, and the role of agroecology and sustainable diets.”

Diary of future events