Presentation at 9th Organic Producers’ Conference: Practical research and innovation – diversity in practice.
As a farmer, my main focus has been on producing goods for the market along with securing the government payments that support this production. In the last two decades however, increasing attention has been directed at farming’s role in providing the public goods that UK Agriculture affords to wider society.
This debate has been sharpened in the course of recent CAP reforms because of arguments about using subsidies to reward delivery of public goods as opposed to simply supporting production of commodities. Whilst my own livestock farming operation has environmental objectives at its heart, I was concerned at criticism being expressed in the media regarding the overall sustainability of extensive grazing systems like mine, particularly regarding their GHG emissions.
These concerns eventually led me to examine ways of assessing and recording the impacts that my farming practices exert on the ecosystem services upon which they ultimately depend and which translate into wider benefits for society as a whole. The PG Tool provided a starting point and I commissioned an assessment in 2012, the results of which will form the basis of my presentation.