Experts from across the food and farmingsector have urged farmers to realise the economic benefits that sustainablefarming delivers.
Speakers at LEAFs annual Presidents Event on5th November entitled Sustainable Agriculture: Show me the money,highlighted the multiple ways in which farmers can maximise the three pillarsof sustainability – economic performance , environmental quality and socialhealth – to drive their businesses forward.
Key note speaker Gregor Henderson, Public Health England challenged farmers torealise the full potential of their assets and the social return on investment.He explained that farmers are key players in the promotion of health andwellbeing through farm visits, open days and community engagement. Hedemonstrated that this approach can deliver benefits for farmers and the widercommunity.
HSBCs Head ofAgriculture, Allan Wilkinson added that agriculturenow has the biggest economic opportunity and gave some key insights as to howfarmers can maximise this. He identified that bench marking and effectivebudgeting are key to a successful business. Few farms are currently operatingat their true optimum performance and farming needs to get closer to the endcustomer. He also urged farmers to collaborate more to maximise resources.
LEAF Marque farmerDavid Rose then went on to discuss how communityengagement has driven sales and helped raise awareness of his business.
The role that farmers can play in deliveringecosystems services isincreasingly important said CharlesCowap, Harper Adams University. While provisioning services such asfood, fibre, energy and timber will continue to remain key; farmers need tocreate and embrace new markets such as payment for ecosystem services,biodiversity offsetting, carbon and conservation covenants.
Reza Vishkai, fromInsight Investment emphasised that agriculture is becoming agrowing area for investment. He highlighted the need for responsible investmentand cited Integrated Farm Management as a good example of this.
Caroline Drummond,LEAF Chief Executive concluded: While the future certainlypresents its challenges, what our speakers have shown today is that there aresignificant opportunities as well. Farmers need to understand and maximise theeconomic benefits of the huge variety of public goods they deliver. It is keythat the industry is flexible and open to new ideas and opportunities. LEAF isextremely well placed to support farmers and the food industry to do justthis.
The event was rounded up with a lively debatehosted by Countryfile presenter andjournalist, Tom Heap, with closing remarks by The Rt Hon Michael Jack, Food and Agriculture Advisor to HSBCBank.