A Citizens' Agricultural Policy

Nourish advocates for farming policies that work for citizens and are made with citizens. This means overhauling agricultural policies to move away from a system that favours larger farms and produces commodities, towards one that supports a thriving and diverse farming sector (and wider rural economy), which also delivers environmental public goods and progresses our public health objectives.

A joined-up approach

Hay harvest - Flickr CC Neil Williamson

Agriculture should no longer be treated as a stand-alone issue. We need a policy that addresses agriculture and food and is informed by the wider context in which food is produced, processed, sold, and consumed. Public health, environmental concerns, and social justice should be at the heart of future farming policies. We are advocating for the Good Food Nation Bill to provide the framework for this kind of joined-up policy-making.

Better democratic processes

Farmers (not just their union) and lay citizens (not just major NGOs) should be involved in a nation-wide conversation about the future of food and farming.  Do citizens want to continue subsidising the production of barley for whisky, rapeseed for biofuels, and beef fed by Brazilian soya, or would they rather their taxpayers’ money supports pesticide-free fruit and veg production? How do farmers think an agricultural policy can support them best to manage a viable business while producing food in a sustainable way? There must also be processes in place to monitor and evaluate the impact of policies, with parliamentary scrutiny and Government accountability.

A greener and healthier policy

A Citizens’ Agricultural Policy needs to support farmers who deliver public goods. Tackling pollution, food waste (at all stages of supply chains), biodiversity decline, climate change, and supporting a shift towards healthier and more sustainable diets should all be at the heart of the new policy.

A fairer policy

European agricultural subsidies are currently distributed regressively amongst farmers: 70% of subsidies go to the 20% wealthiest farmers. This is not fair for the farmers, or for the public. Public money should support the delivery of public goods, and be distributed transparently. Agricultural subsidies should be distributed according to a fair system to reward good practice / public goods – which can be social (care farming, or educational activities), cultural (preserving traditional landscapes), environmental (supporting biodiversity), or economic (creating jobs in rural areas).