What is farming for? – Live from Milan #3

Who feeds Scotland? Who now, and in the future? How we can feed ourselves better? What is farming for? And where should farming be going?

In June 2015 the Scottish Government released a discussion document, The Future of Scottish Agriculture, setting out a vision and strategy for farming in Scotland in the next decade and beyond. It is an open consultation, with the Government keen to spread the debate beyond the usual suspects. Nourish Scotland is supporting this initiative; we will be organising a series of events across Scotland in November, in which everyone can participate and share their views on the direction agriculture should be going. These discussion events are opportunities for people from across the spectrum – from farmer to citizen – to reflect on, debate and share ideas on the role and future of farming.

Bella Crowe & Olga Bloemen at WFTPOne of the core questions of the events is: What is farming for?

For food production? For livelihoods? For profits? For stewardship of the land? There are infinite answers, but we believe it is crucial to ask this question now: to take a step back, and to consider the relationship between farmers and society, because continuing on our current trajectory isn’t really an option.

Many farmers are in the depths of crisis, as milk prices fell below the costs of production this year. We are all facing an impending crisis with soil degradation, biodiversity loss, and climate change all directly linked to our current agricultural practices, and damaging our prospects for future food production.

This certainly sounds ominous, but it can also be seen as a tremendous opportunity. A radically different agricultural system could be the foundation of widespread changes for how we relate to each other, and our natural environment. We need to think big, and to involve as many voices as possible.

Olga Bloemen and Amabel Crowe from Nourish are currently participating in We Feed The Planet, an international gathering of young small-scale farmers, producers, and food-system thinkers, organised by the Slow Food Youth Network. The perfect environment to get some fresh perspectives. We are asking young farmers from across the globe to share their thoughts:

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Nubultan, Kyrgyzstan

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We’re also looking for Scottish farmers to tell us their motivation(s) for working on the land. Please send a photo portrait of yourself holding a sign saying your name, the location of your farm and ‘I farm for/because/to…” to olga@nourishscotland.org.uk. We’ll be sharing these photos through our networks and at the events in November, to enter into the conversation.

Farmer or no farmer, you can also share your views on the role and future of farming on Twitter using the hashtag #whatisfarmingfor.

And stay tuned for more details on the discussion events at different locations across Scotland on the future of Scottish agriculture.