In a briefing published today, the Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) sets out its continuing concerns about the new Agriculture Bill [1], the second reading of which takes place today.

The SFT welcomes the publication of the revised Bill but wants to see a whole farm approach to the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMs) in order to integrate efficient and sustainable food production with nature friendly farming practices.

The organisation is delighted to see to the inclusion of soil health and welcomes the mention of agroecology but wants to see this go further. We are calling for the introduction of two amendments to the Bill:

  1. to provide specific support to farmers during and after the transition to agroecological methods;
  2. a commitment that the same sustainability standards required of UK farmers would be applied to all imported food under any future trade deal, in order to maintain the competitiveness of food production in the UK.

Patrick Holden, SFT chief executive said, “We remain concerned that by too tightly focusing the support on environmental objectives in a way where most of them do not link food production with nature conservation, the Government is missing an opportunity to support a mainstream shift to more sustainable farming, while potentially undermining the viability of UK agriculture with cheap imports.

By only rewarding specific environmental practices rather than an integrated approach, farmers are not being incentivised to introduce sustainable farming practices across the whole farm. Instead the piecemeal nature of the Bill could end up simply supporting some farmers to become caretakers of wildlife pockets within a continuing desert of intensive agriculture.”

As a founding member of the Campaign for Local Abattoirs [2], the SFT also welcomes unreservedly the provision in the revised Bill that could provide financial support for ‘ancillary activities carried on, or to be carried on, by or for a producer’. It is our expectation that this provision can be used to support small abattoirs that slaughter and process livestock. Nevertheless, given the acute problems facing the industry at the present time, we also wish to see an amendment included that specifically refers to small abattoirs.

Read the full briefing here


Notes to Editor:

1] The first reading of the new Agriculture Bill took place on the 16th January 2020.

2] The Sustainable Food Trust set up the Campaign for Local Abattoirs (CFLA) with National Craft Butchers (NCB), other groups and individuals concerned by the developing crisis in the smaller abattoir sector. The campaign was launched in February 2018 with the report ‘A Good Life and a Good Death – Relocalising farm animal slaughter’. For more info:

3] The Sustainable Food Trust is a registered charity founded by Patrick Holden. It works to accelerate the transition to more sustainable food and farming systems that nourish the health of both people and planet.

For further information or quotes please contact:

Victoria Balfour: Press Officer


Megan Perry: Communications Manager


Photo: Neil Howard 

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