Farmers key to addressing climate crisis and wildlife decline

A new report launched today by the Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN), shows that farmers across the UK need urgent support to respond to the climate emergency and transition to sustainable farming system that will deliver on long-term food security and protect biodiversity.

The report, ‘Farming for our Future: The nature friendly climate solution we urgently need’, together with the NFFN practical guide for farmers to help achieve net-zero carbon emission targets,show the potential for a sustainable farming system by sharing stories of farmers across the UK, who can demonstrate the positive impact that farming with nature and the environment is already having on wildlife and biodiversity, as well as helping to mitigate climate change impacts.

A survey of NFFN farmers reveals that an overwhelming majority (95%) believe that nature friendly farming will play a critical role in addressing and mitigating climate change, and 99% see nature friendly farming addressing environmental protection and improving biodiversity. However, 90% of farmers surveyed think that the farming industry is currently ill-equipped and under-resourced to build the movement and transition to sustainable food production, at scale.

These findings follow the State of Nature report earlier this month, that found a quarter of mammals and nearly half of birds are at risk of extinction[1]. The intensification of farming has had the greatest impact to UK’s nature, with wildlife population declines of 60% since 1970.

Agriculture and food currently receive under 10% of UK-directed grants from Foundations to provide support to transition to more sustainable agriculture and climate friendly farming practices[2]. And yet the IPCC report shows that better land use is a critical resource to tackle climate change[3].

Martin Lines, chair of the Nature Friendly Farming Network, commented: “Now is the time for nature friendly farming to become mainstream. Unless we urgently transition to a farming system that produces sustainable food, reduces emissions, restores habitats and sequesters carbon, farmer livelihoods and future food production will be threatened, and the impacts of climate change will escalate.

“It’s clear that farmers across the UK feel ill-equipped and under-resourced. The Nature Friendly Farming Network can play a pivotal role in upskilling farmers but we need financial support to do so. We are calling on foundations and funders to release the capital we need to support farmers during these challenging times so they can adapt.”

The survey revealed that the farmers believe that farming with nature and the environment is essential to address the following issues: 99% believe it supports environmental protection and biodiversity, 98% thought it was critical being able to build a sustainable food system, 82% for increasing food security in the UK, 83% for animal welfare standards.

Thomas Lancaster, Head of Land Use Policy at RPSB, commented: “The RSPB applauds the NFFN for the vital role it’s playing in raising awareness of and taking practical action to tackle the nature and climate emergencies. The NFFN recognise the urgency of the challenge and are pushing for action on the ground and sufficient funding to support farmers as part of a fair transition to a future farming system which delivers great food, wildlife friendly areas and practices which are compatible with climate targets.”

 

Farmers are asking for urgent increased support from the NFFN to help deliver a sustainable food and farming future. Nearly three quarters (72%) think that support from organisations, like the NFFN, will be critical to help scale nature friendly farming and deliver net-zero targets.

Farmers want support in engaging with the public to jointly demand UK food is sustainably sourced, through to influencing policy, creating a knowledge base and sharing best practice on innovative techniques to support them in transitioning to nature friendly farming at scale.

The UK government promised to reward farmers for public goods. Over half (54%) of farmers don’t trust the government to deliver on the public money for public goods policy and 36% are not sure. Only 10% trust the government to deliver. Half of farmers (49%) do not believe that £3 billion, which is hoped UK farmers will receive under new legislation, is enough to support nature-friendly farmers to deliver public goods and ensure that they protect the environment.

Farmers are calling for more funding and resource for the NFFN:71% think that that the resource and funding for the NFFN needs to be increased to provide more support for farmers and 87% of farmers think that the NFFN could be more helpful to them as an organisation if they had additional funding. The now 1,000-member strong farmer network is not only a lobbying organisation for farming with nature, they also connect and support UK farmers.

The NFFN is now calling for people to join them to scale up the movement to tackle the climate emergency and ensure long term food security.

  1. Farmers – join the movement of nature friendly farmers.
  2. Foundations/investors – support the movement of nature friendly farmers.
  3. Government – drive policy and deliver on public goods.
  4. NGOs – increase the levels of support and advice for nature friendly farmers.
  5. Citizens – to support local sustainably grown food.

 

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.