One of the major objectives of the SIP programme is to develop a framework for guidance for farmers and their advisors on sustainable intensification through the principles of integrated farm management. The first step for this was to collect views and ideas from a range of interested stakeholders in a series of three workshops; these were focussed on the arable, dairy, and red meat sector supply chains. Participants in these included farmers, consultants, retailers, seed and feed suppliers, packaging specialists, wildlife groups, certification bodies, millers and processors, levy boards, and government representatives.
Although delegates to the workshops came from a diverse range of backgrounds, there was general consensus on the need to improve the sustainability of UK agriculture and food production. At the centre of any business is the need to make a profit, although there was much discussion about the fact that many farmers (regardless of sector) do not necessarily try to maximise profit - they may have other interests and objectives beyond simply making money. Greater resilience in the supply change was discussed at length, with the recognition that UK agriculture should seek to be self-sustaining and not be so dependent on subsidies, in addition for the desire for reduced market volatility. A key common message from the workshops was the need to manage the countryside in a way that minimises impact on the wider environment, and ensures that the land and rural communities are maintained for future generations to farm.
After the workshops there was much favourable feedback from the participants, with many people saying how useful the days had been, making them think about how SI is pertinent to what they do as part of their business.
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