Food, Farming and Countryside Commission

Agroecology is good business

By Jane Campbell

30th November 2020

Today we publish Farming Smarter, by Tony Greenham and Marcus Link. The report sets out the business case for agroecology at a farm level and the policy-level vision required to allow farm businesses to transition to this model with confidence.

Farming Smarter is intended as an overview of the thinking and principles behind agroecological approaches to agriculture and land management. It explores the economic argument for regenerative farming and confirms that there is no need for a trade-off between profit and nature in an agroecological system.

Greenham and Link consider how farmers can transition to smarter approaches at pace and scale, analyse what hinders change from being adopted more quickly, and map out the landscape and frameworks for assessing the effectiveness of agroecological approaches.

The report reinforces the view that many farmers are ready for change but need clarity of vision from policy makers for a joined-up food and farming system that will allow them to transition with confidence. The business case for agroecology at a farm level is fast emerging.

Current business models are fragile and questions are growing about the climate resilience of intensive agriculture in the face of evidence of extreme weather events (NFU Harvest Survey data for 2020 reports the smallest harvest since 1981 and yields down 15-18% across key crops). Unsurprisingly given these factors, farmers are changing their mindsets and re-ordering farming systems – but they need policy changes that help them to succeed. Farming Smarter navigates this territory and provides a useful summary of the economic case for agroecology.

In early 2021, FFCC will be launching a second report which will provide much-needed evidence of agroecology’s potential to feed the UK population and allow us to transition away from synthetic inputs towards a natural way of farming which also frees up land for nature.

Taken together, the two reports make a powerful case for agroecology which is an auspicious and credible way to tackle the multiple challenges presented by the nature, health, economic and environmental crises facing us today.