The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce’s (RSA) Food, Farming and Countryside Commission has recently published its findings in a new UK report. Set up in 2017, the Commission’s review has been one of extraordinary breadth and depth involving a wide range of people who would never usually meet and learn from each other.
Conducting a broad policy review, covering food, farming, health, rural affairs, trade and economics, the Commission considered over 1000 policy proposals and made these available in interactive form. It invited calls for ideas, particularly new ideas not included in the policy review, engaged with key institutions and people through meetings, workshops, discussions and public events. It conducted year-long enquiries in all four nations, shaped and led by local leadership groups. And it travelled the whole of the UK by bike to meet with people in their homes, village, towns and on their farms to hear their experiences and listen to their views.
The results are a hard hitting report which is both a detailed review of the state of play and an action manual for change. Setting out the key steps for an urgent transition - over the next 10 years - to sustainable, ethical and healthy food and farming, and a revitalisation of rural communities, the report calls for continued urgent collaboration between all sectors to bring out the change we so urgently need.
Recommendations from the report include:
Good food should be good business
The UK can grow a much wider range of crops, including enough of the nuts, fruits, vegetables and pulse crops that are suited to its climate, to feed people healthily and reduce imports. Meat and dairy consumption from the grasslands that are so important for biodiversity and soil regeneration, with less reliance on imported grains and protein crops which are implicated in deforestation, should be the norm. Public procurement should lead the way in pump priming and growing markets for healthy, local food.
A ten year transition to agroecology
So that farming works with nature, builds soil quality and dramatically reduces reliance on pesticides and antibiotics. This will require farmer-led research, great advice and support from peer mentors and farming networks, and an economic framework which rewards public goods, and disincentivises poor practice.
A countryside that works for all
And becomes a powerhouse of the green economy: a land use framework for England, enabling and encouraging a multi-functional countryside, where the right things are done in the right places. Investing in rural infrastructure, whether broadband or abattoirs, to regenerate the rural economy; a national nature service will provide the opportunity for all who want to, to spend some time working in the countryside.
Read more and download the full report here https://www.thersa.org/discover/publications-and-articles/reports/future-land