Politicians turn out in force to support farming for nature

Last night over 50 politicians joined more than 35 farmers and representatives from over 20 NGOs to celebrate sustainable farming across the UK at a farmers’ market held in Parliament.  With the Agriculture Bill expected in the House of Commons this month, there was no better time to demonstrate the growing cross-sector consensus on the interdependence of nature and farming. 

National Trust Director-General Hilary McGrady speaking about the inspirational farmers in the room, and out of it, who are proof that farming for nature is possible.

Yesterday’s event showcased nature friendly UK farming produce, explored the reasons why it’s essential for the environment to thrive if farming is to do the same, and demonstrated that we can have a productive countryside which is also bursting with nature.

We helped organise the event, alongside our colleagues in environmental coalitions Wildlife and Countryside Link and Greener UK to help MPs and Peers show their support for nature friendly farming ahead of the introduction of the Bill, which follows a Defra consultation on a bold new vision for future farming policy which attracted over 44,000 views.

Hilary McGrady, our Director-General, spoke about the National Trust’s own efforts to restore a healthy, beautiful, and productive environment, and was joined on the podium by Efra Select Committee Chair, and event host, Neil Parish, Defra Minister Therese Coffey, and one of our tenant farmers, David Corrie-Close, who shared his and his wife Bekka’s inspiring story of the Horned Beef Company.

Defra Minister Therese Coffey and our Director-General Hilary McGrady at the Parliamentary farmers’ market.

It was fantastic to see so many politicians turning out to show their support for businesses like David and Bekka’s – with a full room including 4 Government Ministers, 4 Select Committee Chairs, 2 Shadow Cabinet Members, 6 Shadow Ministers, the whole of the Parliamentary Green Party (aka Caroline Lucas and Jenny Jones), DUP Leader in Westminster, Nigel Dodds, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Alistair Carmichael, Chief Executive of Environment Agency, Sir James Bevan, and the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor on the Environment, Sir John Randall.

The Agriculture Bill could begin its passage through Parliament within the next few weeks. Defra’s consultation put improving nature at the heart of a sustainable future for farming, with public money for farmers and land managers directed towards the integral role they can play in delivering public goods like clean water, healthy soils, access to nature, and protection of our rural heritage.

The Bill now needs to put the framework in place to deliver that ambition and truly ensure not only a productive future for this nation’s farming, but an enhanced environment we’d be proud to pass onto the next generation.

Take a look at our Twitter account for more on the event.

Want to know more about nature friendly farming?

Check out the Nature Friendly Farming Network – which now has over 2000 members: https://www.nffn.org.uk/

And more about what we’re doing on National Trust land on our website here: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/seven-of-our-best-nature-friendly-farms

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