Key Points from the Thematic Hearing on Food, Land and Sea, 29th November

Key Outcomes

  • We need to take a holistic, whole catchment approach to land and marine management.
  • Must learn from and share existing best practice in Devon and beyond – create mechanisms for this e.g. farmer networks and demonstration farms.
  • Public and farmers need access and support to acquire the information and skills to shift to net-zero food and farming culture.
  • Public procurement is a key lever for supporting sustainable agriculture and food culture.
  • Regional farming, processing and distribution infrastructure needs greater support, including funding and removal of national policy barriers.
  • Need to better understand “blue carbon” opportunities and limits – marine sequestered carbon.
  • National policy and subsidy framework will be highly influential in ability of Devon to achieve net-zero carbon food and farming – including ways to internalize socio-ecological externalities.
Key ActionsBarriersOvercoming the Barriers
Ensure joined up policy, regulation and planning to support the public goods of healthy and sustainable food in Devon.· Our agri-industrial food system which encourages cheap food and externalises costs such as poor diets and a crisis on the land
· Mass retail
· Procurement criteria in public bodies
· Fishing bi-catch regulation
· More regulation on food supply chains
· Taking a place-based, regional approach
· Public procurement of local sustainable food – benefit of providing a stable market to farmers. Denmark have
hit a 90% public procurement for organic at no extra cost! Copenhagen has transformed its public procurement with 72% of its food from organic producers
· Improve bi-catch regulation
Shift to net-zero food culture and diet:
· Marine proteins will be needed
· Tree-based foods including carbohydrates
· Eating a wider variety of animals, e.g. some wild animals
· Public understand the link between food choices and carbon emissions
· Less meat eating but livestock still needed for land fertility – right type of agriculture in the right place
· Public norms
· Lack of time in peoples lives for food preparation, purchasing and growing – long working hours
· Public skill base
· Public knowledge base
· Cooking classes resource intensive
· Lack of collective will to decarbonize
· Lack of access to sustainable food
· Current treatment of trees in agriculture by
subsidy regime
· A programme of public education, awareness raising
and upskilling
· Cooking classes e.g. project Rebecca Sandover has
worked on in Cornwall
· Shorter working hours to give people more time for
food preparation and growing
· Plymouth Marine Park offers engagement and education opportunities
· Support for local and sustainable food networks to distribute and retail food, e.g. veg boxes
Food labelling to help consumers make the right
carbon and ecological choices.
· Cost – who to pay?
· Sustainable food is more expensive so people don’t buy it as much and it’s not so accessible
· Labelling helps to account for the externalities
· A points-based system to reflect sustainability criteria met on farm was suggested. Perhaps something like
the traffic light scheme for fats and sugars? A
suggestion of nutrition produced per acre. Should
organic food labelling be paid for by non-organic
farmers? Suggested that organic farmers shouldn’t
have to pay for the labelling as their food is
sustainable. Could it be self-assessed?
· Would benefit from being a national scheme
National taxation to influence behaviour: e.g. a carbon
tax on foods
· This could mask other ecological complexities · How could this work and not have unintended negative consequences? E.g. increased burden to farmers already struggling.
Small scale integrated farms in Devon key to
delivering the land use we need – including urban
growing, aquaponics and hydroponics.
· Lack of access to land, training and finance
· Current planning system
· Lack of access to food distribution markets and competitiveness of market pricing

· Training and mentoring schemes for new entrants,
something being worked on by the Land Workers Alliance
· Need to combine practical hands on with more research
· Changes to the planning system
· Change in subsidies needed 
· Demonstration farms to help share best practice
Re-localise farming infrastructure and networks: e.g.
abattoirs, food processing equipment such as
dehydrators etc.
· Capital investment and existing levels of farmer debt
· Devon needs a stronger, more effective regional food distribution network
· Mobile abattoirs e.g. like in Sweden
· National changes in abattoir laws needed
· Funding for infrastructure
· Layering functions – making things multifunctional, e.g. van fleets not only deliver things but bring things back such as food waste – could farmers be renewable energy hubs? Would help make distribution networks more viable.
· Support local shops
· Food hubs – new models for getting sustainable food to market needed
· How to engage local supermarkets to procure more local food
Restore and enhance natural carbon sinks &
Protect blue carbon habitats
Plant more trees (the right tree species in the
right place)
Restore peatlands
Green sea defences
· Lack of data and research to make accurate decisions on e.g. carbon capture in woodlands vs. permanent pasture
· More data needed on blue carbon
· Lack of practical and widespread metrics
· Potential conflict or opportunity with offshore wind – not enough known about impact of large-scale off shore wind
· Extreme weather impacts
· Soil erosion
· Commoners rights can be in tension with tree planting agendas
· Need to bring people on board
· Might be synergies with wind farms, minimise disturbance in these areas
· More research on large-scale offshore wind impacts
· Tackle fishing related plastic pollution
· Peer to peer farmer/ landowner networks spreading best practice & other support for farmers – help farmers see the business case
· Support smaller fisheries e.g. Lundy
· Do we need a new agri-marine environment scheme?
· Improve farming contracts so that they reflect natural capital and enable sustainable farming. e.g.
Dartington’s innovative farming contracts for
encouraging agroforestry fields
· Identify blue carbon we already have
· Enhance mechanisms to take a catchment wide
management approach which includes land and sea
· Right incentive framework needed – shape of national subsidies will be key
· Enforcement resource needed
· Work collaboratively with commoners to achieve tree planting
· Establish common metrics which are easily measured “in field” to allow monitoring of carbon sinks and biodiversity