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NFFN NI Manifesto May 2022: A crucial moment for nature-friendly farming 

The next term of the Northern Ireland Assembly will take us towards the end of this decade, when many nature and climate targets must be met. The upcoming Assembly elections will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of farming, nature and the environment in years when concerted action on these issues is imperative.

The next five years provide a unique opportunity to set Northern Ireland on a pathway that helps agriculture and land use address the climate and biodiversity crises while securing a viable farming sector. Get it right, and we can support thriving rural businesses in restoring nature, safeguarding against flooding, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and locking up more carbon in our hedgerows, woodlands and soils. Get it wrong, and we leave farming increasingly vulnerable to natural or economic shocks, such as geopolitical upheavals and extreme weather. If farming doesn’t transition to sustainable and regenerative systems, profitability, landscape resilience and long-term food security are threatened.

At the Nature Friendly Farming Network, we remain committed to securing a future for farming which delivers a thriving rural economy which works in partnership with nature to provide wide-ranging benefits to society. For agriculture to thrive, we must ensure that our soils are healthy, our waters are clean, and biodiversity is restored and protected in the farmed landscape. These aims are not an aspirational wish list for the future but the core building blocks of a sustainable food and farming system.

To build a more resilient, nature-friendly future for farming and land use, the NFFN has six key asks for the next Assembly mandate. These include:

  • Deliver a NI Agriculture Bill that underpins all future farm payments and provides a clear transition

  • Mainstream sustainable and nature-friendly farming through future farming schemes

  • Put actions that secure sustainable farm practices at the heart of a climate plan for agriculture

  • Deliver a land use strategy that presents a vision for multifunctional land use and which balances food production, rural livelihoods, nature recovery and climate mitigation

  • Invest in nature-friendly food and farming systems through the right infrastructure, local-level support and farmer-focused supply chains to make sustainable and nutritious food the norm

  • Upscale education on food, farming and nature to ensure that farmers and the public recognise how nature-friendly farming systems and practices will underpin sustainable food production

You can read our full NFFN NI Manifesto here.

A better future for farming, nature, and climate relies on transformative change. There is no time for delay. We need to see change now if we’re to successfully meet our nature and climate targets, from achieving net zero by 2050 and securing many of the commitments within Northern Ireland’s Environment Strategy. These key actions will help ensure a pathway for nature-friendly farming, but the next Assembly must be committed to delivering them.

Next week, when using your vote, please consider which parties stand ready to deliver the changes to make nature-friendly farming across Northern Ireland a reality.

For more information on NFFN NI’s work, contact: Phil Carson