Neil Carmichael, MP for Stroud, on UK Farming and Climate Change

Correspondence with Neil Carmichael, October 2016

27th October 2016

Dear Mr Carmichael,

Re: Farming and Climate Change in the UK

I would like to thank you for the opportunity to put my question to you last Friday (21st October, Egypt Mill, Nailsworth) in your meeting with Gloscan and the Christian Aid, Climate Change Week initiative.

My question was aimed at highlighting the role that the global farming community are now charged with, in terms of designing farming methods that actively sequester atmospheric carbon into the natural carbon sink that is soil and woodlands. In the UK’s economic terms farming is equated only with food production. Globally, farming is being recognised as the means by which soil and woodlands can be restored to be the effective carbon sink it once was. Thus, the role of the farming community is becoming two-fold.

Knowing your combined interest in both farming and education, I hope you will consider how Restorative Agriculture, also known as Agroecology, can be introduced into farming studies and practice via the curricula at agricultural universities and colleges in the UK. And, that improvements in awareness of capturing carbon by natural biological and ecological farming methods, becomes institutionalised in the development of rural and farming policy, and which consequently will sustain the businesses of UK farmers.

Both the EU and UN have concluded, in their reviews of research and documentation that prove that small-farms and small-holdings in particular are more easily adaptable to adopting Restorative Agriculture. Both urge nation states to adopt policies to affect this, and an example is the Agroecology Law 2015 adopted by France. As we know, small-farms are struggling in the current economic situation in the UK, and small-holdings are being lost across the country. Evidence shows that a consequence of Restorative Agriculture secures and raises prosperity for farming businesses, both small and large, whilst both improving biodiversity and capturing atmospheric carbon via natural photosynthesis.

Today, WWF have published the Living Planet Report 2016. This highlights the potential for replenishing biodiversity and the part it plays in the restoration of the biosphere the human race ultimately depends upon. By default, it also identifies the new restorative culture, or role, that land-managers and farmers have in managing the restoration of land, soil and atmosphere, and which is a policy forming programme.

There are many other reports produced both in the UK and internationally that I could refer you to, however, I hope you will devote some time to considering how this farming renaissance can be included into UK farming and land-management policy and education.

Some recent information on this subject is as follows:

  •  Rodale Institute, 2015. Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change – A down-to-earth solution to Global Warming.
  •     International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems, 2016.  From Uniformity to Diversity – A paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems. Lead coordinating author: Emile A Frison.
  •     APPG on Agroecology for Sustainable Food and Farming: Inquiry into soil health. 20/16. Briefing paper: Soil and Farming Methods.

Stroud is a community, both rural and semi-urban, that expresses great interest and concern in both human and the planet’s health. I hope you will give time and consideration to your constituents who wish to see changes that will advantage both town and countryside in making the area resilient to Climate Change.

Yours sincerely,

Liz Child
For SD Horticultural Belt Group.