The work of the RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission will go to the heart of who we are and who we want to be: as individuals, households, and communities.
As the UK negotiates its future relationship with the European Union and the rest of the world, we face serious questions about the future of our food, farming and countryside. It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the way we eat and farm, and to regenerate our environment and countryside communities.
A wealth of experience and expertise is already being applied to this policy challenge, within government, industry, academia and civil society. We see broad agreement on some principles, for example high environmental and animal welfare standards, and that public money should deliver public benefits. Policy change in different areas must align to enable sustainable and more strategic use of precious land.
Yet there are also competing priorities and different views on how to make the best of our land, not least given the involvement of the devolved administrations in setting their policy. The countryside already faces some stubbornly difficult social, economic and environmental problems. Too many citizens, across diverse rural landscapes and in our cities, feel disconnected from policy questions and the debate can often happen in technical silos. We need to create a new space to have a new conversation, using a systems level view, acting as an honest broker to explore best practice and new thinking.
Our role on this Commission, generously funded by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, is to host this new conversation in order to identify practical and radical solutions, ensuring future policy delivers what the nation needs from food, farming and the countryside.
Food, farming and the countryside make up a deeply connected and interdependent system in which we all have a stake. We will draw on the RSA’s record of combining cutting edge research and critical enquiry, with rigorous and creative citizen and community engagement.
To identify practical solutions that are fair and sustainable in the long-term, we need to listen to people outside our usual ‘echo chamber’. We need to look beyond food, farming and rural policy for ideas, inspiration and innovation. The power to create new solutions is intimately connected to broader issues - like public health, technology, migration and the shape of our future economy.
Policy is important, but it isn’t the only driver of change. We must recognise that this isn’t about simply changing regulations or government subsidies. The choices made by citizens will shape the future. The work of this Commission will go to the heart of who we are and who we want to be: as individuals, households, and communities.
The Commission’s task is three-fold:
- Inspire and develop a widely-shared mandate for change.
- Set out a vision that is fairer, can stand the test of time, and aligns more closely with public expectations and values.
- Propose solutions to achieve that vision, identifying where communities and business can take a lead, and where national policy is essential.