Farmwel is working to generate momentum towards sustainable, regenerative, and accountable mainstream agriculture and aquaculture, focussing on the environment, people's livelihoods, and farm animal welfare. Our work is supported by the expertise of FAI Farms, a globally respected Oxford-based farm consultancy which helps the food-sector overcome key challenges and implement better farming practices, on land and at sea. Our goals for secure and sustainable food are also supported by other important groups such as the UK's Food Ethics Council.
Farmwel firmly believes that regenerative agriculture (working with nature to achieve highly functioning ecosystem services), offers farmers the best opportunity to achieve the multiple land outcomes necessary to restore biodiversity and feed people well.
Regenerative agriculture is not prescriptive and its principles can be applied on any farm in any landscape. It aims to establish or re-establish the building blocks of nature. By focussing on the water cycle, mineral cycle, photosynthesis, and natural diversity (sometimes called community dynamics), regenerative agriculture helps create resilient farm systems that are better able to withstand storms, floods and drought, so that soils, crops, farm animals and people can thrive.
Regenerative agriculture is not simply conservation farming and it does not reduce farm output. Instead, nature is fully integrated to work alongside farmers to improve efficiency and yield, while boosting biodiversity, sequestering carbon, and enhancing the soil carbon sponge, therefore managing water better.
For Britain’s farmers economic growth and good ethical and environmental outcomes should be considered interdependent. In the short term, farmers must become more competitive. While greater efficiency will help cut waste, we must also add value to basic food products. Ethical, environmental, and welfare quality have become essential commodities for Britain to trade successfully at home and around the world.
This trade in quality will also protect British food businesses in the medium term. We know that we’re approaching high risk thresholds in terms of biodiversity loss, soil quality, and carbon pollution. There is also increasing awareness of farm animal welfare issues amongst consumers. By adapting in a timely manner; investing as we grow, we can ensure that we have rich and robust food systems far into the future.
Farmwel has met regularly with UK Government ministers and civil servants, and has been invited to give evidence to Parliamentary committees. We have worked with Government to develop farm animal welfare metrics and a new approach to funding better farm animal welfare. We have advised Government on the role of labelling and sustainability metrics. We have helped the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and the Committee on Climate Change better understand the role that ruminant methane plays in global warming, and we have highlighted the
importance of the metric, GWP*.
Farmwel has worked alongside FAI Farms to ensure that governments around the world better understand the role that ruminant methane plays in global warming, and we have highlighted the importance of the metric, GWP*.
Importantly, cattle and sheep are not the enemy. Benefits under GWP* can be gained through well-managed, grass-based agriculture; by a diverse patchwork of rural businesses, and the restoration of our rural economy. We are working with farmers to help show how we can use GWP* and mitigate the global warming impact of agriculture by growing trees, hedges, and establishing ponds and species-rich grasslands. These interventions should be integrated within farm systems to offer the greatest benefit, so that in addition to absorbing CO2 they help to restore biodiversity, improve soil health, and restore and manage water flows. Additional flora for climate mitigation will also create the potential for greatly improved animal health and welfare, with more shelter from extreme weather, more nutritional diversity in the sward, and better natural management of pests and diseases.
Farmwel is now providing the secretariat for the Centre for Food & Global Security, established in 2020, which will help identify threats, propose mitigation, and promote opportunities to ensure and improve global access to healthy, nutritious meals.
Working with global experts we will develop and game realistic worst-case scenarios, investigate key themes in detail, report findings, and advocate high level policy responses. Our objective is to deliver world class research and recommendations that will inform national and international food and security planning, and help to build stronger, safer, and more resilient societies.
Farmwel also produces the Farm Gate podcast. This is produced in association with FAI Farms and is funded by sankalpa. The podcast features interviews with thought leaders, farmers and policy specialists from around the world, and has a global audience.