Chaired by Baroness Sue Miller and Robert Flello MP the aim of the APPG on Agroecolgy is to explore a viable and sustainable future for UK farming.
Coming in the wake of the superdairy debacle and the on-going debate about the place of biotechnology on our farms it seems a good time for farmers and consumers to take stock of the situation and reassess the future of our farms.
Speakers for the inaugural meeting where Ellen MacArthur who spoke about the work of her foundation that promotes sustainability and Colin Tudge who is well known for his writing on sustainability issues.
Ellen MacArthur made the valid point that using less is not sustainable – it just puts off the day when we run out of finite resources – and that the only responsible future is to reuse and recycle. Colin Tudge believes that producing and consuming good wholesome food gets us a long way towards producing food in a sustainable manner.
Both are absolutely right but in the real world of everyday farming with all the pressures of managing a farm and trying to support a family it’s difficult for individual farmers to see how they can respond to the call for sustainable production. Especially as our entire R&D funding is focused solely on technological fixes to the problems and there is very little research into cultural or mechanical solutions.
There are so many valid examples of sustainable farming techniques from around the world – many practiced by millions of farmers everyday – that could be adapted to UK conditions and help UK farmers both to produce food more sustainably and also more profitably.
There are also examples of beneficial varieties or methods that don’t get the publicity they deserve. For instance the Sarpo blight tolerant potatoes that are not genetically modified or the cross bred wheat programme that promises to deliver an astonishing 100% yield hike in the organic system.
Hopefully this is an area where parliamentarians will be able to influence the various levy funded bodies and widen the scope of the research and also widen the scope of what is communicated to farmers