Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:46 pm on 25th October 2018.

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Ed Hamer:

The agro-ecological principle is a whole-farm approach; it does not take fields one at a time in individual focus areas, but looks at the inputs to the farm as a whole, as you say. Anything you can do to reduce dependence on external inputs will have not only a beneficial environmental impact but a beneficial economic impact on the farming system. Examples from our membership demonstrate how mixed farms used cereals for livestock bedding and then manure to fertilise the cereals. They used waste from the horticultural enterprise to feed a pig or poultry enterprise alongside. So by being sensible with food waste, in particular, on the farm, you can recycle those inputs and then essentially cut your losses through that margin.

On food waste, it is also worth bearing in mind that small farms tend to be much more concerned about and aware of what food is being wasted. Again, going back to local marketing, consumers are much more willing to accept food of a slightly lesser cosmetic appearance when dealing with local markets, compared with what you can sell through to the supermarkets. So there are a number of economic and environmental justifications for the agro-ecological farming system. Those are just a few of them; I can come back to you with more afterwards.