The Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) held another successful two-day conference in early January, this year with ten sessions focussed on access to land. Run by a mix of organisations and individuals, these set out some of the key areas for action if we are to succeed in creating a better world for farmers, wildlife, the biosphere and humankind in general.
Hot topics included how we overcome the differences between those who feel passionately about getting rid of grazing land and rewilding it versus those who feel that this is not the way forward - including many members of the Pasture Fed Livestock Association (70% of land in England is agricultural land; many including the main environmental NGOs want to see that cut by 25% and the land made over to woodland).
There’s also strong feeling around the relationship between ownership and stewardship. How important is ownership if participatory governance models are in place which involve the owners and those working and living on the land? You can listen to sessions on this here and here. And what about bringing an end to the tax breaks that at the moment go to certain fortunate farmers and landowners when the money could go to such public benefits as helping store soil carbon, bring back wildlife onto farms and support agroecological farming. Listen to the ‘Tax and Farmland’ session here.
However, the session on ‘Securing land for the Common Good’, led by the Soil Association Land Trust, started what we hope will be an ongoing dialogue involving all parties, asking how to put caring for the land and all its many functions - including human health and happiness on a secure base.
To watch and listen to all the ORFC 2020 sessions on Access to Land, please go to our website here.