Farmers launch Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) in Scotland

Hannah Downey

The Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) is led by farmers across the UK with a passion for sustainable farming and nature and they seek to unite farmers who have a sustainable outlook. The NFFN also works to secure positive changes in policy, including how farming is supported by the public.

Offering a 'new vision' for the future of Scottish agriculture, a group of farmers have used the Royal Highland Show as their forum to launch a Nature Friendly Farming Network in Scotland for the first time.

Amid the growing sense of uncertainty about the future of the farming and crofting sector in Scotland, the newly formed farmer-led steering group was at the show to unveil their ‘Pledge for Nature’, and invite other farmers, crofters, politicians and the public to support their call for rural policy that supports and rewards farmers and crofters for providing public goods, such as abundant wildlife and healthy ecosystems.

Group chairman Michael Clarke, who farms at Williamwood Farm, near Lockerbie, said: “With Brexit, we are in a period of great change and uncertainty. Regardless of the outcome, Scotland needs to create a long-term, stable policy framework that will drive a mainstream shift towards a sustainable, productive, nature-friendly future for farming as well as protecting the landscape.”

He said many farmers were already using nature-friendly farming practices, but this needed to be scaled up rapidly with strong policy support in a bid to halt the decline in wildlife and soil quality.

“Post-Brexit, agricultural policies need to help farmers produce high-quality food at the same time as helping our soil, landscapes and wildlife recover and flourish,” added Mr Clarke.

“Among other things this means that farming payments need to be continued and redirected towards mainstreaming nature-friendly farming.

“The NFFN wants this, not just because the farmers care about nature, but because they firmly believe that a more nature-friendly approach will be key to the long-term survival and success of farming in Scotland.”

Shetland crofter Hazel Mackenzie, of Aithsetter, Cunningsburgh, a member of the group, said: “Nature-friendly farming is a way of life and a commitment to valuing the land that we live in. By coming together as a group and a network, we can be heard with one voice.”

For more information on how to join and recent news, visit the Nature Friendly Farming Network website.