More than 100 farmers are set to launch a new nature-friendly farming network later today at the Oxford Real Farming Conference.
In its new vision to support nature-friendly farming policies, the Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) hopes to encourage British farmers restore wildlife, reverse declines in soil quality and help manage the impact of climate change at the same time as growing affordable, healthy change.
It said a post-Brexit policy framework should incorporate provisions for wildlife and public service in an attempt to change Britain’s approach to agriculture.
The chairman of the Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) Martin Lines said: “Brexit presents a once in a generation opportunity to create a new farming policy that will help farms evolve and thrive, at the same time as restoring and protecting our natural heritage.
“We can use this opportunity to create a long-term, stable policy framework that will drive a mainstream shift towards a sustainable, productive, nature-friendly future for British farming as well as protecting the landscape across the UK.”
Farmers part of the NFFN accused existing farm practices of relying on the heavy use of chemical pesticides and herbicides which they said had a ‘profound impact’ on biodiversity and public health.
The Network said more than 4,000 farmers were already committed to nature friendly farming with encouraging results for biodiversity, soil health, water quality, air quality and species which were formerly on the brink of extinction.
Those already backing the network include the Soil Association, National Trust, Woodland Trust, RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust, Bat Conservation Trust, Buglife and Plantlife.
Chief executive of Plantlife Marian Spain said the ‘farming versus environment’ narrative where farmers and conservationists were pitched against each other was holding ‘wildlife-friendly’ back at what she called a critical moment.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove added: “As we leave the EU, we have a historic opportunity to design a new system that works for our farmers - putting responsible land management at the heart of the industry and moving away from the inefficient and ineffective Common Agricultural Policy.
“I look forward to working with everyone with a stake in our rural communities, including the Nature Friendly Farming Network, as we strive to improve biodiversity, tackle climate change and protect our soils.”