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Wildlife Trust leads debate on the future of farming and wildlife after Brexit

Monday 4th September 2017

Wildlife Trust leads debate on future of farming and wildlifeHereford cattle grazing wildflower-rich pasture in the Cotswolds. Pic: Ian Boyd

Three-quarters of land in the UK is farmed, but many farming systems and practices are unsustainable, states the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) as it prepares to lead a debate about the future of the countryside for farming and wildlife at the Trust's Conference on Saturday 14 October at Oxford Brookes University.

Make farming a positive force for nature’s recovery

Intensive, modern farming is the primary reason for the steady decline in wildlife in the UK; but is this driven by food pricing, subsidy or simply farm practice? Most of our food production is dependent on pollination or other natural systems, so it’s in everyone’s interest to make farming a positive force for nature’s recovery.

Leading economist and Government advisor on natural capital, Prof Dieter Helm will chair the debate at The Future of Food, Farming and Nature Conference on Saturday 14 October at Oxford Brookes University.

It is vital that farmers... restore and create more wildlife-rich landscapes

Estelle Bailey, Chief Executive of BBOWT explains why the Trust is leading this debate. “The ways in which our countryside will be managed for food production and for wildlife post-Brexit are very uncertain. We do know there will be dramatic changes to the current system of subsidies from the Common Agricultural Policy; and it is vital that farmers are supported financially to enable them to restore and create more wildlife-rich landscapes.

“It is timely to have Dieter Helm leading our debate because the Natural Capital Committee, which he chairs, is due to report at the end of September on the framework for the Government’s new 25-year plan for the natural environment. I look forward to some tough questions from people who care about the future of our countryside!”

The speakers are:

  • Minette Batters, NFU Deputy President and a livestock and arable farmer from Wiltshire.
  • Ian Boyd, a successful conservation farmer from the Cotswolds who has a Pasture-for-Life herd of cattle on his organic mixed farm is also a Trustee of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.
  • Ellie Brodie, The Wildlife Trusts’ Senior Policy Manager campaigning to improve agricultural policy to benefit wildlife. A healthy natural environment, where farmland is producing food but also bursting with wildlife, underpins sustainable farming systems. The health of our habitats and soils are linked to the ability of our land to keep sustaining us and producing the food we need to live.
  • Bill Stow a former senior civil servant in the Department of the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) where he led on environmental policy for several years. Bill is Chair of The Wildlife Trusts Wales.

The Future of Food, Farming and Nature Conference will be held at Oxford Brookes University from 1.30pm on Saturday 14 October. It is free and open to the public, but booking is essential.