Although the Council is not involved in food and farming, we are developing 3 sets of signposting links to help you find sustainable farming and land management expertise and resources.
Signposting for different topic areas might overlap - for example, useful web links for woodland creation, grants and carbon codes are relevant to farmers looking into income streams, or habitat management - or both!
There is a colossal capacity for farming and land management to support actions to address climate change, promote landscape and ecosystem recovery, and ways to improve soil, water and air quality. Farming involves over 90% of the Mid Devon landscape, therefore it connects with all elements of environmental issues and resource management.
A significant proportion of the district’s carbon footprint is linked to agriculture; estimated to be around 33% according to the impact-tool.org.uk community carbon calculator. (Based on 343,756 tCO2e of the 1,035,092 tCO2e annual territorial total or approximately 9.87 tCO2e per household.)
At a national level, agriculture is reported to comprise around 10% of the UK carbon footprint (depending on data included, confidence, analysis method etc.). According to the Climate Change Committee (CCC) analysis of 2018 BEIS data the agriculture sector created 10% plus the land use, land use change and forestry sector (LULUCF) accounted for another 2% of UK Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Defra described 2019 data as 46.3 MtCO2e or 10% of GHG emissions in the UK (68% of total nitrous oxide emissions; 47% of total methane emissions; 1.7% of total carbon dioxide CO2 emissions).
The Council's 2020-2024 Corporate Plan contains these aims:
- Promote sustainable farming practices in partnership with local farmers, district and county councils, including research into best practice re better soil management and animal husbandry.
- Promote the development of the farming economy and local food production.
- Working in partnership with farmers to develop and grow markets on the principle of reducing carbon emissions and sustainability.
- Explore large-scale tree-planting projects and re-wilding to enhance biodiversity and address carbon pressures.
Listening to farmers
The Council has promoted rural food and farming supply chains and networks through its Economy work e.g. Team Devon, Visit Mid Devon, farmers’ market events and ‘buy local’ campaigns such as Food Drink Devon or Made in Devon. We have engaged with farmers and land managers through events such as the Mid Devon Show and our 2022 State of the District Debate.
Councillors and officers have sought input from local farmers such as Liz Bowles (Farm Carbon Toolkit, also formerly at the Soil Association), Mary Quicke (dairy farmer and ADHB Dairy Council member), Steepholding and key players and networks such as Andrew Butler of the National Farmers Union (NFU), FWAG South West, Blackdown Hills AONB farming advisors and the Future Farming Resilience scheme (businessinfopoint.co.uk).
Awareness of the imperative to support sustainable farming and stewardship of the land is reflected in local community dialogue as well as national subsidy policies. Sustainability was raised by local farmers during the Council’s 2022 State of the District Debate and in preparatory stakeholder dialogue (the theme was Mid Devon’s Communities and Climate Change). Mid Devon farmers have initiated and participated in a range of trials and research related to environmental policy development, innovation and best practice. Local sustainability campaign groups (including food producers) often seek to enhance local supply chains, source sustainable food, reduce food-miles and cut out waste.