A Pebble in the Pond: People Need Nature report on opportunities for farming, food & nature after Brexit.








I’m delighted to be able to tell you about this new report which is published today. It’s the first People Need Nature policy report – A Pebble in the Pond: Opportunities for farming, food and nature after Brexit. You can download it here.

Here’s the summary:

As England prepares to leave the EU we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the way we support England’s land managers.  This report shows how leaving the EU will enable us to channel money from the public purse to land managers in such a way that they can both produce food, help nature and provide all the other benefits society needs.

The last forty years of farm subsidies from Europe via the Common Agricultural Policy has contributed to a dramatic decline in nature on farmland – land that covers three quarters of England. The vote to leave the EU means we have to create a new system to support farmers to produce the food we all need.

This is an opportunity that cannot be ignored.  If England grasps this opportunity, the UK’s departure from the EU will yield benefits for nature and society that will be felt by generations to come.

  • The damaging subsidies that existed within the EU can be altered in order to protect and restore our countryside rather than damage it.  Nature, and the people of England will benefit from these changes.
  • Farmers are paid too little for the food they produce and in some cases are paid less than the cost of production. Supermarkets and others in the supply chain take most of the profit, leaving the farmers with the risks. This is an opportunity to tackle that injustice.
  • Subsidies currently paid to highly profitable farmers can be redirected to support small-scale sustainable farming, which benefits nature.
  • Landowners who provide benefits to society such as carbon storage or flood alleviation can be supported.
  • The UK’s unique Heritage Sites – from natural heritage, to historic buildings, to archaeological sites – can be protected for the future.
  • Far more action is needed to stop damage to nature from farming. Where an outright ban is not needed, a polluter pays principle can be widely adopted. Urgent action can be taken as a result of leaving the EU, to reduce the hazards of pesticides, to benefit nature, improve human health and produce healthier food.
  • Greater transparency in the way our countryside is managed and our lands are farmed can result from the UK leaving the EU, benefitting British farmers, society, our nature and environment.
  • A new relationship between people and food can be developed. Educating children about where food comes from and how it is produced, is the first step to understanding the true cost and value of food.

The report explores the relationship between farmland, food, people and nature; and identifies ways in which that relationship can be strengthened.

We need to have an open public debate about how the public supports farmers and landowners to provide food and help nature on farmland.

This really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a much better support system.

Please to download and read it, and ask others to do the same.


About Miles King

UK conservation professional, writing about nature, politics, life. All views are my own and not my employers. I don't write on behalf of anybody else.
This entry was posted in Brexit, Common Agricultural Policy, farm subsidies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A Pebble in the Pond: People Need Nature report on opportunities for farming, food & nature after Brexit.

  1. Julian Jones says:

    Many thanks for this important & comprehensive report – much appreciated.
    We urgently need robust validation of the many plausible claims that appropriate land use can sequestrate CO2 into soil humus/carbon (soil carbon farming film, 45 mins, http://www.water21.org.uk/1551/regeneration-carbon-farming-in-australia/ ). If this is valid it places a huge new emphasis here, in many ways … addressing not only causes but effects of climate change, at the least.
    Such validated agro-ecological methods should prevail, not only in UK & EU but globally (which should be our main perspective) – this would be an important step towards ending all subsidies and much more besides. We need to be considering how our land supports us … it is our life support system.
    The last 10,000+ years of land use has created huge problems globally that are huge opportunities for such agro-ecology to provide holistic climate, social, economic & biodiversity solutions, virtually everywhere.
    In the former Fertile Crescent there are still remnants of traditional knowledge that enable prolific food production while enabling full biodiversity, on approaching 20% of Iran’s land area – hear Dr Taghi Farvar explain (video 1 hr, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2iR80iHnaQ ). But also note perhaps the most significant hurdle here to UK uptake – these methods are always essentially ‘sacred’ or theologically based. Much like the principles behind traditional Biodynamic farming, which can also be hugely productive (20 min film, http://www.water21.org.uk/2012/dawn-to-dusk-2015/).

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