The Soil Association
We are long term supporters of the Soil Association’s pioneering work in organic certification, and their campaigns to deliver positive change in soil protection, food and farming: www.soilassociation.org
The Soil Association was one of the founders of the global organic movement developing some of the world’s first organic standards. Today they maintain high standards for food, farming, health and beauty and textiles and work across Europe to influence legislation.
Through their organic standards and those producers who become Soil Association registered they bring about real change on the ground – the farming they do and the food that they produce is rooted in the organic principles of health, ecology, fairness and care.
Earthsong specifically supports the Soil Association’s policy and influencing work. Their policy team lobby government, support positive changes to food and farming laws and research ways to move away from current intensive production and consumption systems towards a nature-friendly future
Soil Association Policy and influencing
Earthsong specifically supports the the Soil Association in its Policy and Influencing work which is more important than ever. This is an extract from their policy:
Deploying timely research and analysis to shift the debate and influence key policy makers, and engaging citizens via sustained campaigns to achieve landmark goals
Why is this work needed?
Covid-19 has shone a fresh spotlight on the fragility of our food system and has compounded the climate emergency, biodiversity crash and underlying diet crisis we were already facing. Ten years from now, the UK’s food, farming and forestry systems must be in a radically different place if we are to have ‘grown back better’ from the current crises. We will need to transform how we eat and how we use our land. If we get it right, the win-wins for climate, nature and health could be enormous.
Where do we want to get to?
We have set out a route-map towards a reformed approach to food, farming and land-use in the UK over the next decade. It draws on the Soil Association’s experience in devising and delivering practical solutions, outlining how we can accelerate the transition to net-zero, and regenerate our wildlife and soils, while enhancing the health and wellbeing of the population. Over the next ten years we will work in partnership with others and focus our efforts on these two ten-year transitions:
Ten-Year Transition to Agroecology and Sustainable Land-Use
- Transform livestock farming to dramatically reduce the risks of pandemics and antimicrobial resistance
- Exceed Europe’s ambition to halve pesticide and artificial nitrogen use and grow organic farming to 25% farmed land by 2030
- Instigate a farmer-led tree planting revolution
- Farmer-led innovation and professional development – from agrichemical to agroecological R&D and knowledge sharing
- Turn soil from carbon source into carbon sink – for net zero and climate resilience
Ten-Year Transition to Healthy and Sustainable Diets
- Scale up fruit, vegetable, pulses, nut production – by investing in UK horticulture
- Set ambition to cut ultra-processed food in UK diet – as France has done
- Bold public procurement – improving quality and increasing organic
- Every child to get world class food education – for health, climate and nature
- Rebuild resilient, regional food supply chains and stop deforestation associated with UK animal feed
At the heart of all our policy and influencing work is the goal of joining the dots between climate, nature and health. Without this work, there is a risk that policymakers reach for false solutions. In pursuit of Net Zero, for example, we risk driving further intensification of farming at the expense of nature to spare land for tree plantations and bioenergy. In pursuit of calorie reduction, we miss the
crucial opportunity to change our diets more fundamentally to be less processed and more sustainable. The Soil Association is being looked to more than ever before for information and advice.
We will use compelling research and timely briefings to influence the key decision-makers and influencers and harmonise the voices of the wider environmental and public health movements. We will recruit and empower a diverse, articulate army of Farmer and Food Ambassadors and share our ‘on the ground’ experience to give policymakers the confidence that change is possible.
Our focus for the next three years
The next three years will be decisive for the future of UK food, farming and forestry. A transformational response is required to tackle the complex and interconnected threats posed by the climate, nature and health crises.
Our work will centre on influencing government, other NGOs, influencers and stakeholders and will focus on these key issues:
Accelerating progress towards Ten Years for Agroecology (TYFA)
The strongest vision of a reformed farming system is found in the ‘Ten Years for Agroecology’ study written by thinktank IDDRI. The study models a fully agroecological Europe, where diverse, mixed farming systems designed according to organic principles, and healthy and sustainable diets, are the norm. The study stresses that we can wean farming off synthetic fertilisers and pesticides while producing enough nutritious food to feed a growing population and ending the offshoring of our food footprint; we can preserve our soils and our biodiversity while resolving farming’s contribution to the climate crisis; we can achieve widespread ecological regeneration, bringing trees and wildlife back onto the land, without needing to intensify food production or relinquish large areas of farmland. The Soil Association is playing a leading role in securing the evidence on what the Ten Years for Agroecology (TYFA) in the UK model would mean for how we farm and use land, and this will be essential in influencing key audiences in the UK.
Accelerating progress towards healthy and sustainable diets for all
The development of a National Food Strategy in England and the Good Food Nation agenda in Scotland creates the opportunity for a new vision for climate, nature and health and we will draw real world insights from farm-to-fork to advocate for these connections to be made through research, polling and advocacy.
We will be calling for the UK Government to commit to a world-leading public procurement strategy to normalise healthy and sustainable diets, while providing a secure market for agroecological and organic production. Through the Food for Life programme we will champion bold public procurement and highlight the vital role that it can play in providing a market for UK grown produce.
Alongside our advocacy work, we will develop public-facing campaigns to increase pressure on politicians and policymakers around critical climate, nature and health issues that will benefit from meaningful citizen action.
We will launch and sustain two major campaigns:
- one around Ultra-Processed Foods calling for UK Government to set an ambitious target to reduce the consumption of ultra-processed foods by 80%, aiming to move from ‘worst in class’ in Europe to ‘best in class’ within ten years;
- and another on Food Not Feed calling for an end to the rising tide of intensive poultry and pig units across the UK and a transition away from intensive livestock farming.