Farming with nature

Cattle in wildflower meadow by Ian Boyd

Agriculture policy does not have to choose between wildlife versus food production. Farming that works with nature makes sense – for now and for the future.

We have just held one of BBOWT’s annual staff away days at our wonderful Chimney Meadows nature reserve.

Glorious clouded yellow and small copper butterflies were feeding in the restored pastures and field margins. It was a refreshing reminder to us all that land that had previously been very intensively managed for agriculture could be restored to nature with time and with careful changes to farm management practices.  

Agriculture policy does not have to choose between wildlife versus food production. Farming that works with nature makes sense – for now and for the future.

Wild flowers at Chimney Meadows

Wild flowers at Chimney Meadows by Wendy Tobitt

The announcement of the Agriculture Bill signals a huge opportunity for better policies to support farmers to produce food for our country whist creating healthier soils, vibrant wetlands and the other things that nature gives us for free.

The recovery of wildlife in the UK – one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world – depends on an Agriculture Bill which enables farmers to create and restore natural habitats.

I strongly support the Agriculture Bill’s intention to spend future taxpayer monies more on environmental ‘public goods’. I know that work on a new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) is well underway. But the success of ELMS is, of course, dependent on guarantees that future funding levels are adequately maintained. 

The Agriculture Bill will give farmers more certainty over the coming transition years for environmental schemes. I am particularly pleased that the current Higher Level Stewardship and Countryside Stewardship schemes will be available through the transition period.

Brown hare

Brown hare by Ian Boyd

The Government’s stated intention to leave the environment in a better state for the next generation is encouraging. The Wildlife Trusts believe that the only way to do this is to commit to targets for the recovery of the natural environment – this requires agreement from the Treasury.

At BBOWT, together with my colleagues in all the other Wildlife Trusts, I will be pushing to hold Government to account to support the investment in our life support system – in nature, our land and our countryside – at a substantially higher level. 

We know that nature is good for our mental and physical wellbeing. And we know that British agriculture produces food to very high quality standards. Government must now bring these themes together so that in future we continue to enjoy high quality food produced from British farmlands that once again buzz with wildlife. The Agriculture Bill gives us the opportunity to bring this about.

Find out more about the Agriculture Bill

Read more about our work campaigning for wildlife


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