Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +044 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.

The future for agricultural land use - productivity, environmental sustainability, and innovation

Morning, Thursday, 17th September 2020

Online Conference


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will examine the next steps for agricultural land use, and the future for agricultural policy and regulation.

It will be an opportunity for stakeholders and policymakers to discuss:

  • key developments in policy, legislation and regulation and priorities for the sector,
  • addressing the productivity and environment challenges for the sector, and
  • the latest science and innovation in this area.

We also expect discussion to reflect the impact on agricultural land use of the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

  • the effect on farming communities and those living in them,
  • the recruitment and deployment of seasonal workers,
  • how environmental stewardship and land practices have been affected,
  • the lessons in innovation and adaptation to new working, supply and market conditions that can be taken forward, and
  • support that may be needed by the sector to recover from the extreme pressues of the pandemic on the sector, and its suppliers, customers and partners.

Why this is relevant now - the context:

It takes place with:

  • Government moving forward with major policy initiatives, including the updated Agriculture Bill and the Environment Bill, including establishment of the Office for Environmental Protection;
  • Findings from the Committee on Climate change, including:
    • the importance of sustainable land use in enabling the UK to meet the Government’s net-zero target, as highlighted in the Land use: Policies for a Net Zero UK report, and
    • the latest progress report to Parliament finding that policies and national plans affecting sectors such as agriculture are not taking sufficient account of climate change.
  • The 25 Year Environment Plan setting out an ambition to restore vulnerable peatlands;
  • Government’s vision for the future of the sector, outlined in a ministerial speech to farmers, focusing on increasing sustainable productivity and rolling out new technology in agriculture;
  • Support initiatives from government including:
    • the Transforming Food Production Challenge, with the Industrial Strategy fund having awarded projects aimed at increasing productivity and reducing environmental impact of farming,
    • the recently-closed funding competition to transform food production systems, and
    • announcement of £3bn of funding for 2020 to support farmers, as the UK enters into trade talks with the EU and the Common Agricultural Policy is replaced with a new system.

The discussion in detail:

  • The Agriculture Bill - and moving to a system of payment for public goods in areas such as environmental and animal welfare standards under, with discussion on:
    • how best to design a payments system that promotes sustainability and stewardship, alongside enabling productivity and efficient and competitive farming,
    • the proposed Environmental Land Management scheme, and supporting farmers and land owners for public goods such as:
      • soil health,
      • reducing carbon emissions, and
      • protecting biodiversity ecosystems.
    • key issues emerging from Defra’s consultation on initial thinking for how the scheme will be operated, which will then help design the detailed delivery arrangements.
  • The Environment Bill - and implementation of the Office for Environmental Protection, looking at:
    • the role it will play in scrutinising environmental policy and law, and
    • the potential future relationship between the regulator and the sector.
  • Innovation and industry practice - with a focus expected on priorities for:
    • areas such as biodiversity and soil health,
    • technological and scientific innovation in the context of the CCC’s Land Use report,
    • equipping farmers with the knowledge and expertise to deliver sustainable land management, drawing on examples of best practice domestically and from international stakeholders,
    • what more can be done to encourage the adoption of new farming methods - including among SMEs and small farms - and overcome barriers to the take up of innovation,
    • opportunities for cross-sector collaboration in both boosting research and improving take up,
    • improving the translation of research from industry and universities to the farm gate and realising the potential of disruptive technologies such as AI, drones, and robotics, and
    • how best to harness new innovations to increase food production in a way that delivers environmental benefits.
  • The UK government commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050 - looking at:
    • tackling the challenges it brings and the impact of the significant changes in the sector,
    • how to increase the efficiency of the sector and the potential of new technologies to reduce emissions, with the agriculture industry having committed to tackling climate change through greater efficiency and mitigation in its Greenhouse Gas Action Plan, and
    • how land use can be changed so that more carbon is stored, including changing the use of land through reforesting and restoring peat marshes.

The agenda:

  • Adapting agriculture to the challenges of climate change and the future of food security;
  • Transforming farming - sustainability, innovation, public goods, and productivity:
    • developing an agricultural system that delivers public goods and improves productivity,
    • increasing soil health - sustainable food production and regenerative agriculture,
    • supporting biodiversity and species protection across agriculture,
    • transitioning farmland towards carbon sequestration, and
    • balancing domestic agriculture policy priorities - productivity, the environment and volatility.
  • Implementing new technology and addressing barriers to adaptation;
  • International case studies on agriculture land use - increasing food production and improving environmental standards; and
  • Next steps for policy in agriculture and land use management.

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

This one’s no different.  Places have been reserved by officials from Defra; the National Audit Office and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Professor Gideon Henderson

Chief Scientific Advisor, Defra and Director, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford

Keynote Speakers

Professor Gideon Henderson

Chief Scientific Advisor, Defra and Director, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford

Professor Tim Benton

Director, Energy, Environment and Resources Department, Chatham House


Professor the Lord Trees

Co-Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Animal Welfare


Tom Hind

Chief Strategy Officer, AHDB

Dr Katrina Hayter

Challenge Director, ISCF Transforming Food Production Programme, UK Research and Innovation

Guy Thallon

Strategic Business Development, Fera

Rohit Kaushish

Acting Chief Economic Advisor, NFU

Dr David Rose

Elizabeth Creak Associate Professor of Agricultural Innovation and Extension, University of Reading

Rob Cooke

Director, Natural England

Carolina von der Weid

Head of Agriculture Section, Embassy of Brazil