Challenging and exciting times lie ahead for organisations involved in providing solutions for more sustainable farming practices. Earlier this year, Defra started to map out its 25 year Food and Farming Plan – developing its vision for a successful food and farming economy with the promotion of British
produce at its core.
As LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) approaches its 25th Anniversary in 2016, it is interesting to reflect on the changes that have occurred during this time. We have seen huge political, scientific, technical and social progress and it is encouraging to recognise the contribution of LEAF and the GWCT in bringing about these changes.
We welcome the fact that Government has put in place the first stages for a discussion around the future
of food and farming. This is a real opportunity for the skills of both LEAF and GWCT, as well as many other organisations in this sector, to play an active part in helping to support this journey.
Going forward, it is clear that the Government’s 25 year vision will need to focus on some difficult issues including human health, climate changes, conservation management, ethical production and some contentious technical developments.
However, strong leadership and ambition will be needed to deliver meaningful change. We are certainly keen to be involved. We know our LEAF members, Demonstration Farms and Innovation Centres are industry leaders and, through their adoption of LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management (IFM) framework, are delivering realistic, practical and achievable solutions.
Our long and productive partnership with the GWCT puts both organisations in a strong position to ensure that wider environmental and social issues are addressed. GWCT has been involved with LEAF since its inception in 1991. Our skills are complementary.
We were proud to welcome GWCT’s Allerton Project as one of LEAF’s first Innovation Centres. They continue to provide robust, scientific evidence for many of the practices our LEAF Demonstration Farmers are putting into practice to maintain and deliver a better environment for farmland birds and the wider farm ecosystem.
Going forward, any vision for food and farming will have to recognise the need to engage the public with
how their food is produced. LEAF’s Open Farm Sunday and GWCT’s long involvement in the initiative, will help ensure the social focus of food and farming policy is not overlooked.
Finally, we have to ensure our future farming systems are truly sustainable – economically, environmentally, politically and socially. LEAF’s development and promotion of IFM backed up by the robust science carried out on GWCT’s Allerton Project and our other LEAF Innovation Centres, will put us in a good position to make this happen.
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