Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:12 pm on 25th October 2018.

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Helen Browning:

In my view, whole farming systems such as organic farming or agroforestry are probably the most efficient way to support the public goods that we want, because they actually deliver them as an inherent part of the food production system. That is why I have been an organic farmer all my life: I do not want to be farming intensively in one place and trying to produce public goods in another. The integrated approach gives us a balance of food production with environmental care. We will still need to do special things in special places so that we can preserve species, manage floods and so on, but the agro-ecological approach should be at the core of our farming system. We know that we need to start moving away from pesticides and antibiotic use, and towards encouraging rotations and using less manufactured nitrogen.

I welcome the steer on climate change, which is incredibly important. We need to soak up more carbon in our soils and in our trees. We need farming systems that deliver those things, but at the moment that is not coming through strongly enough. It will be financially and physically the most practical way to do it, and it will give people a vision of the future that we can all sign up to. A drive towards using the new technology coming through, as well as traditional techniques, would feel really exciting.