Wash Farm, south Devon.

An open letter: Help avoid a U-turn

Riverford's chief executive Rob Haward writes to local MP to ask for help after reports the government is planning to U-turn on vital nature-friendly farming plans.

To: Rt Hon Anthony Mangnall MP


Dear Anthony,

Riverford is deeply concerned about the government’s apparent willingness to reverse its manifesto commitment to a farming system based on ‘public money for public goods’. This policy shift is profoundly important in the face of a range of very serious environmental pressures – not least the catastrophic decline in biodiversity and the impact of climate change.

We were heartened to see the environment at the heart of new farming subsidies under the new Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMs). To hear that these are to be potentially scrapped under a new drive for productivity is a shocking U-turn.

At Riverford, we have been farming organically for 30 years, and are living proof that you can produce high quality, nutritious food on a commercial level while working in harmony with nature. These schemes would open the door for many more farmers across the UK to follow suit, at a time when we drastically need a change in how we produce food, restore nature, and address the climate crisis.

We urge the government not to turn its back on this opportunity. We have a chance to develop more resilient and competitive food and farming systems, which are better for farmers, better for consumers and better for the planet. This shift in agricultural land management could create a farming landscape that is part of the solution, not part of the problem – and in doing so, enable farmers to become justifiably respected and appreciated not only as producers of great British food, but also as custodians of our countryside for future generations. They can’t do this without a policy framework that supports this change.

This shift is needed now. To not pursue it would be a betrayal of those of who have worked so hard on developing ELMS up to now, including farmers across the country, and a betrayal of future generations who expect more from their leaders.

As the local MP to Wash Farm, our home in south Devon, we therefore ask that you support us in requesting that the development and implementation of ELMs remains a policy priority for the government. If Riverford can support in any way with progressing this policy, then please ask.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Rob Haward



How you can help

You can adapt or forward this letter to your local MP and ask them to pressure the government to honour their commitment to truly support and incentivise nature-friendly farming.

Find your MP here.

Copy and paste this letter into your email and send.

For more on this story and the plans to reverse nature-friendly farming policy, click here.


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