Knowledge for better food systems

A sustainable future for food in Devon and the South West

This report from the UK’s RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission examines four key areas of Devon’s food system: grassland and livestock production, environment and biodiversity, health and thriving communities, and new entrants to farming.

The four key areas each have their own reports, linked to below. The recommendations and findings include:

Grasslands and Livestock Production

  • The report recommends using public engagement to communicate the “health, environmental, cultural, and dietary benefits arising from grassland pastoral livestock farming.”
  • There is room for improvement in agricultural yields from grazing.
  • The report argues that agriculture can offset its own carbon emissions through areas of grassland (the FCRN report Grazed and Confused? discusses the extent to which this is true for grazing livestock).
  • Further research is required on how to manage grasslands to optimise their multiple functions.

Environment and Biodiversity

  • The report suggests encouraging agroforestry, silvopasture and agroecology.
  • Farmers need support as agricultural policy transitions towards payment for public goods (e.g. flood prevention).
  • Natural capital accounting can help farmers to implement sustainable management practices.

Health and Thriving Communities

  • The report argues that both public and private funding are needed to support mental health initiatives to serve the farming community.
  • Teachers should be trained in delivering outdoor learning (see for example Sustainable Outdoor Learning in Devon).
  • Public food procurement should prioritise buying local and sustainably produced food.

New Entrants

  • Information about farming as a career should be made more visible to young people.

Read the full report, Grass-roots: a sustainable future for food, farming and the countryside in Devon and the South West, here. See also the Foodsource resource How do food systems link multiple issues and concerns?

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