The Need for Change – published by the Nature Friendly Farming Network – is a new report examining why food system change is needed to support the transition to nature-friendly farming.
As part of the NFFN’s Rethink Food campaign, the report sets out why farm payments for improvements to soil health, biodiversity and climate mitigation ensure viable UK food production and bolster necessary adaptation to a warming climate.
At a time of global food insecurity resulting from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the report argues that fragilities in the food system have long been present. Current research predicts that the land’s overall productive capacity will reduce due to climate change, increasing supply and demand pressure, and making on-farm adaptation through nature-friendly systems a priority.
It highlights the NFFN’s manifesto for how it endorses food system change across seven areas, including prioritising the right outputs in the right areas, harnessing opportunities for producing a wider diversity of foods and improving the link-up between strategies for food, agriculture, trade and land use.
It recommends that payment schemes support farmers in creating greater ecological and agricultural diversity, including wider crop choices and livestock breeds, to help farms manage natural or economic shocks with less reliance on inputs. With the right incentives in place, farming can be the backbone of a resilient food-secure future that effectively safeguards nature, improves soil health and helps achieve net zero.
The Nature Friendly Farming Network wants:
To safeguard food production through a nature-friendly transition
Across the UK, we urgently need a shift to nature-friendly farming to unlock its potential to build resilient farm businesses that produce healthy food while simultaneously addressing the nature and climate emergency. We need a clearly defined transition which provides the roadmap for the future.
The right outputs in the right areas
We must prioritise the right outputs in the right places to avoid unnecessary trade-offs and to maximise co-benefits between food production, nature’s restoration, climate mitigation and adaptation.
Food for healthy landscapes and healthy people
We need to move away from a food system focused on calories produced to one which prioritises health through optimal nutrition. We must strengthen the link between what we produce and what we need, while empowering people to make healthier, more sustainable choices, for example, through clear food labelling.
A solid pathway to a net zero future
Farmers need a long-term strategy which provides the right tools to deliver widespread climate mitigation and adaptation. We need support to cut our food system’s reliance on fossil fuels and help farmland sequester and store more carbon to help reach net zero.
To deliver greater diversity
Help farmers harness opportunities to produce a wider variety of foods from the land, where possible, and support a transition to diverse farming systems.
Nature-friendly food on more tables
Improvements to markets, supply chains and infrastructure can support a transition to widespread nature-friendly farming, ensuring that farmers receive a fair return for the food they produce and provide access to healthy, sustainable food for all.
Transformative food system change
Production forms just one part of a highly connected food system. We need the right policy and legislative frameworks that tackle issues in tandem, ensuring that actions are coherent and mutually reinforcing. Such interventions are necessary to ensure that efforts on dietary change, waste, access, trade, food production and land management are joined-up.