The appeal of agroecology and the obstacles encountered by new entrants pursuing agroecological agriculture and tillage: Via Campesina

New report from the Landworkers’ Alliance

Based on findings from cross-disciplinary research and drawing on interviews with eleven different case studies of new entrants, this report encourages UK nation governments to recognize and act on the urgent need to focus their support on new entrants in agriculture on the removal of real barriers to entry for land-based agro-ecological companies with short circuits.

The report shows that agroecological farming and tillage is an attractive sector, and investing in pathways to agroecology for new entrants has the potential to rejuvenate and diversify the farming and production sector food, while helping governments meet their food, climate and green needs. collection commitments.

Agroecological farming practices aim to work with wildlife, mitigate climate change and empower farmers and their local communities to create systems best suited to their needs. It is already fulfilling and rewarding work for the few who know about it, and applies many of the sustainable farming practices that UK governments are announcing as part of their post-Brexit agricultural transition plans. But the UK urgently needs to scale up this type of farming for ecological resilience, long-term food security, to create and support new jobs and revitalize rural economies.

Jo Kamal is a community food activist and grower working in London who participated in the research. They said:

“Farming and food culture weren’t really options for me growing up, they just never seemed like an option. I don’t know if it was because of my family or maybe larger societal factors and expectations of success. When I was younger, success didn’t look like growing food, but it does now – I’ve decided what success looks like to me.

“It’s important to me to have a positive effect on the land I work with, rather than against it. It is also important to have development opportunities and to have a rewarding career path. So many land work opportunities are voluntary, and it’s really hard, especially if you’re working class.

Holly Tomlinson, LWA New Entrant Policy Coordinator, said:

“Contrary to the common misconception that young people today are not interested in agriculture, many are truly drawn to the dignified, varied, skilled and team-based work of the land found in agroecological farming systems. The goal of producing healthy, sustainable food and restoring soil health and biodiversity is a key motivation for people growing up in the face of the climate crisis.

To develop this crucial sector, we need direct financial support and training for new entrants at all stages of their journey, as well as broader systemic changes that would not only support agroecological new entrants, but help also to create a more sustainable, dynamic and localized food system.

The main recommendations of the report are as follows:

  1. Build skills and knowledge by integrating agroecological farming and food production into school curricula and career advice, supporting on-farm apprenticeships and accredited training programs, and investing in mentorship programs and farms incubators.
  2. Enable access to land and housing through the introduction of government funded land matching and sharecropping services, provision of low interest loans to land trusts and land reform planning laws to accommodate small agricultural businesses, including new housing for agricultural workers.
  3. Provide direct financial support to new businesses and remove acreage-based thresholds for farm subsidy payments.
  4. Support resilient local supply chains through the introduction of programs such as dynamic public markets.

Read the full report here.

Keith P. Plain