Food, Farming and Countryside Commission

Farming for Change: Routes to Action

By Jane Campbell

1st February 2021

There is growing interest in agroecology and how we transition to a food and farming system which works in harmony with nature, adapts to climate changes, builds a thriving farming sector and sustainably provides citizens with healthy and nutritious food.

FFCC’s latest report Farming for Change introduces new research from IDDRI which includes comprehensive and systematic technical modelling for a transition to agroecology across UK nations. We are now exploring how to translate this detailed and rigorous piece of research into practical projects which support the transition to agroecology by 2030.

Routes to Action is a series of five workshops featuring a fascinating array of contributors (from farming, science, economics, ecology, food businesses and more) who will address the challenges and opportunities of transitioning towards an agroecological food system and share ideas on how to implement more agroecological farming practices - from farm to landscape to nation.

We hope that this work contributes to the groundswell of interest in agroecology and helps turn the findings of our report Farming for Change into real action. We will be including the outputs of these meetings in our final Farming for Change report, due to be published in Spring 2021.

The workshops, which are open to the public, will each cover one of the following cross-cutting themes: Agronomy, Land Management, Economics, Culture and Policy. Each session will seek to gather:

  • More evidence on the feasibility of agroecological principles and practices in UK nations
  • More ideas on how we can put agroecology into practice at scale within our landscapes and food chains
  • The people and organisations to form a community of action to take forward next steps

FFCC will publish a briefing on each topic before the workshop, setting out some of the issues and questions for participants to consider. Chaired by the FFCC, each session will hear from a panel of experts and give participants an opportunity for discussion around the topic in question.

Tickets are now available for the first two in the series, Changing our Agronomy and Changing our Land Management.

Background to Routes to Action

  • In 2019, the FFCC’s landmark report made the recommendation to explore the potential of an agroecological UK food system by 2030
  • We have acted on this recommendation by publishing two papers to start the conversation on two critical areas: can the UK feed itself through an agroecological food system, and does it make business sense to do so?  
  • The first paper,Farming Smarter,provides an overview of economic and social conditions affecting our farming system in the UK and makes the case that agroecology is good business
  • The second paper, Farming for Change, explores a model of a UK agroecological food system through five key stories: Diet, Nature, Productivity, Carbon and Livestock
  • These papers are just the start, providing a relatively conservative foundation on which to build. The purpose of this six-week inquiry is to rapidly build three things: 1) More evidence on the feasibility of agroecological principles and practices in the UK, 2) Ideas on how we can put agroecology into practice at scale within our landscapes and food chains, 3) A community of people and organisations to make our collective pursuit of agroecology bigger, better and more joined up  
  • The FFCC will act on the results of the inquiry by incorporating the evidence into its final Farming for Change report in Spring 2021, develop and resource the best ideas with our partners and co-ordinate a community of people, businesses and organisations looking to progress our recommendation of working towards an agroecological food system by 2030  
  • The results will inform our Farming Transition Programme at FFCC, encompassing building the evidence base for agroecology, convening cross sector leadership to deliver the change, encouraging market demand through consumers and supply chains and resourcing farming with knowledge, finance and advice to make the transition