Paying the price for food production: the dilemma of Britain’s declining farmland

How can we maintain food production while still ensuring a thriving natural environment? We discussed this question with an expert panel and audience at our event on 7 December, 2017


  1. The example of a hypothetical scheme in the Anglian River Basin was given to demonstrate how farmers could be paid for environmental improvements via a new market. This was the subject of our report Protecting our assets, produced with the National Trust. The event's panel members were: Will Andrews Tipper, head of natural environment at Green Alliance and author of the report; Mat Roberts, group director of sustainability strategy at Interserve; Liz Lowe, sustainability manager at Coca-Cola Great Britain; and Chris Clark, businessman and farmer at Nethergill Farm.
  2. The discussion was chaired by Patrick Begg, rural enterprise director at the National Trust.
  3. Will Andrews Tipper introduced the findings of his report.
  4. Will Andrews Tipper said that food companies should have the incentive to participate in this market as they needed to ensure resilience in their supply chains and also to fulfill their corporate responsibility.
  5. Panellists then discussed the ideas and answered questions from the audience:
  6. Chris Clark of Nethergill Farm offered his perspective as a farmer:
  7. Liz Lowe of Coca-Cola said her company supported this idea for a market as they needed to protect sustainable water sources, reduce water use and replenish supplies; and they also buy their sugar beet from East Anglia.
  8. Mat Roberts of Interserve said his company looks after the whole Ministry of Defence estate on Salisbury Plain and so had a big stake in better land management. He said that the government should be attracted to this market concept as a way of cutting water bills and supporting farmers.