BREXIT: the future for agriculture, ecology and food

The Agricultural Ecology Group of the British Ecological Society recognizes that ‘Brexit’ will impact how farming is carried out in the UK and that there is a danger that the ‘environment’ gets lost along the way. However, along with the threats comes huge potential to reinvent agriculture towards more sustainable systems.

Agricultural Ecology Special Interest Group

Currently much of the Brexit discussions take place within isolated sectors, each focusing on sectorial priorities which are then fed into higher-level discourse via consultations and inquiries (such as the Environmental Audit Committee). Cross-sectorial conversations are less common yet incredibly important, given the complications of landscape management and the inevitability of trade-offs.

We see an opportunity to develop a more integrated approach, identifying common priorities within the overall food production sector. These cross-sector priorities would inform policy makers of key elements to consider when evaluating trade-offs, and provide a framework for enabling further evaluation by stakeholders.

We propose a one-day meeting that will bring representatives from different sectors together to evaluate a number of scenarios with the aim of producing a policy note to influence agricultural policy.

Scenarios will be distributed to the participants ahead of the meeting for consideration. At the meeting each scenario will be discussed in groups, refined and subsequently the output will form the basis of a policy note for BES to deliver to Defra and Ministers.


Five scenarios will be developed be distributed to the participants ahead of the meeting.  These 5 scenarios will be clearly separated and skewed toward specific priorities (for example this could be food production / sustainability / environmental biodiversity or a mixed model). The scenarios will be discussed and refined in breakout groups comprising representatives from the different sectors.

The event will comprise:

  1. An analysis of each scenario will be presented by the group, in structured form, with the help of the facilitator.
  2. A debate on the scenarios, drawing out the common ground and identifying key priorities.

A policy note will be drawn up by the BES, circulated to participants for comment and then delivered by the BES through established routes to policymakers. The output of this meeting will be presented at a meeting to be held by the Association of Applied Biologists on Tuesday 30 January:  Rethinking agricultural systems in the UK (3) – Linking agri-science to post Brexit UK agricultural policy.

For more information please email, Barbara Smith.

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