The Food Farming & Countryside Commission’s report – ‘Our Future in the Land’ should be on the top of the Alliance organisations and our new DEFRA Secretary’s summer reading lists.
It’s a rich report. It sets the tone of our times and provides some tonic as it is full of good ideas and solutions. We’ve pulled out some elements that stood out for us:
If you need a reminder of the scale of the challenge and that it requires a joined-up government approach at the highest level, go no further than Chapter 1.
‘Consensus between scientific evidence and civil society is strengthening.’
‘The climate and ecosystem emergency are not the only crisis we face. The scale of the public health challenge is also dawning on us, from poor diets and mental health, to the effects of pollution and antibiotic resistance.’
‘This is happening here and now, on our watch’.
‘Now all our efforts must be directed towards the sustained, systemic actions needed to shift the current trajectory…If we act now and act together, we still have time to implement a transition plan for climate, for nature and for people’s health and well-being. We must be bold and ambitious, creative, courageous and comprehensive’
‘The price of cheap food has come at too high a cost, which has been paid elsewhere in society, now and for generations to come.’
The three central themes of the report provide a compelling call to action, which would be hard to disagree with. There are many ideas that we should all help take forwards. We love the idea of the ‘Beetroot Bond.’
1. Healthy food is everybody’s business.
Healthy and life-enhancing diets mean more and better fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and wholegrain food, less and better meat and dairy, with livestock products from climate and nature friendly production, and zero food waste. It also means re-establishing food as central to human relationships, in the process rebuilding our connections with food producers, nature and each other.
- Committing to grow the UK supply of fruit, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and developing and supporting UK sustainable agriculture.
- ‘A beetroot bond’ – every person in the UK, should receive a Beetroot Bond with a monthly dividend to spend on fresh local sustainable food.
- Implementing world leading public procurement, fully using this powerful tool to transform the market
2. Farming is a force for change, unleashing a fourth agricultural revolution. Agricultural research and innovation needs to align better with future farmer needs.
- There is a need to design a ten-year transition plan for sustainable, agroecological farming by 2030.
- A National Agricology Develop Bank should be established to accelerate a fair and sustainable transition to finance land use and food production projects.
3. A countryside that works for all.
- Establish a national land use framework in England that inspires cooperation based on the public value of land, mediating and encouraging multipurpose use.
Making it happen
We need to support the Government to turn these suggestions to action and the Food Farming & Countryside Commission suggests adopting a Public Value Framework to support this. This is a proposal worth considering in more detail.
The element of the report which the Eating Better alliance organisations will likely find most compelling is the ‘The Field Guide for the Future.’ This is full of inspiring stories of leadership that we should build on to shape the future. It has inspiring stories from across Britain of people – and particularly farmers - already stepping up to the challenges ahead.
When you have read this report, you can dip into 'Better by half: A roadmap to less and better meat and dairy,' and see how much alignment there is, and the need for action now.