Follow-up to our recent Agriculture Talk, and what you can do.

Thank you if you managed to join BCCF’s agriculture event on 12th May, Can British agriculture achieve Zero Carbon by 2040 – and help restore nature? (You can watch & share it here). We welcomed Oliver Rubinstein, the National Farmers Union (NFU) County Adviser for Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire, to talk about this subject and how we can all play our part in a more sustainable future for farming and food.

Oliver talked about ways food can be produced in ways that work closely with environmental concerns in mind, such as agroecology and organic systems.

He also highlighted a number of issues threatening British farming:

· Concerns about food standards in post-Brexit trade deals. The NFU launched a petition on this last year, which you can still sign here. A recent article in Farming UK explains the concerns UK farmers have about competing with overseas imports. · Challenges facing farmers due to climate change and extreme weather. Farmers are also facing uncertainty due to delays with the UK Government’s Environment Bill and the way financial support will work for farming post-Brexit. The new system is to be based on ‘Environmental Land Management’ (ELM) schemes that will pay farmers public money for work to enhance the environment, with the Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme being piloted from this autumn.

Oliver talked about what people can do to support farmers and local food producers: · Find local food using the online directory at BigBarn.net. · Support schemes which bring you closer to the people producing your food, such as veg box schemes, farm shops (find a list in Bedfordshire here), and farmers’ markets.

· Support producers trying to grow innovative and unusual crops in the UK, such as Hodmedods, who specialise in unusual beans, peas and even UK-grown quinoa.

In addition, Open Farm Sunday takes places this year on 27 June. You can find details of farms near you taking part on their website.

One of the biggest actions we can all take is to tackle food waste. In Europe, around one third of all food produced is never eaten. A huge amount of food waste takes place in households in the UK, with a household throwing out an average of £810 of food per year. As a country, we throw out around 20 million slices of bread every day. We can help reduce this by: · Learning what food can be frozen and how to freeze it. · If you’re feeling ambitious, why not try a food waste audit?

· Rescue food that will otherwise go to waste, or share food you don’t want with people in your local area using the Olio food sharing app.

· Support your local refill shop, greengrocers and bakery, where you can purchase food loose and in quantities to suit your family, rather than sticking to supermarket pre-packed items. · If you have space, learn how to compost your inedible peelings and food scraps. Check your local council’s website to see what offers they have on discounted composting bins and kits.

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