Last week we had sight of the Government’s strategy on food production with the publication of a blueprint to guide future decision making, and importantly, where Government support and intervention should be targeted for farming.

This comes at a critical time for farmers who are under pressure from rising input costs, running at over 20%, and understanding how they can adapt their businesses to meet new environmental requirements around Net Zero.

The original food strategy report, produced by Henry Dimbleby, set out some lofty ambitions to change the diet in the UK and very much change farming methods, albeit significantly increasing the land put aside for purely environmental measures, often called rewilding.

Given the recent dramatic rise in food prices and concerns over food shortages caused by war in Ukraine, it is perhaps not surprising that the Government has seen fit to create a greater focus on food production, and the need to support farmers in improving productivity and efficiency.

There is a dramatic scaling back on the ambitions for rewilding, and the financial support is being redirected through grants for farmers to look at efficiency, alongside building on farming’s sustainable, environmental practices, led through the new support arrangement and the Environmental Land Management Scheme, ELMS.

Some have interpreted this as a significant watering down of the focus on Net Zero and environmental ambitions the government had set out in their post Brexit policy. Reading the report, however, that is clearly not the case, but it is a realistic attempt to create a more even balance between food production, carbon reduction and other environmental improvements, very much building on existing good practice in farming, and supporting farmers in transitioning to a low carbon future.

Producing the same or more but using less inputs to do that through greater efficiency and embracing new technology.

This is generally good news for farming but there is still a lot of change to happen, and detail is needed on how future support will work so farmers can plan forward with confidence. There is work to do to understand how the journey to Net Zero and reducing Carbon will be achieved for farmers, but many have made a start by carrying out a Carbon Audit for their farm, and that journey is perhaps not as scary as it first seemed.