Sustaining Food, Sustaining Farmers

Event Date: 

25 Nov 2002 to 26 Nov 2002

4th British-German Environment Forum

Sustaining Food, Sustaining Farmers: What Can Britain and Germany Learn from Each Other in Reforming Agriculture for Sustainable Development?

The fourth conference of the British–German Environment Forum brought together some fifty experts from government, farmers’ associations, NGOs, universities and the media in both countries to explore issues of sustainability in agriculture and food production. A number of participants were also directly involved in agriculture as small-scale farmers.

The conference was timely. In the UK, the Curry Commission had recently produced its report on Farming and Food: a sustainable future, setting a new agenda for food and agriculture policy. In Germany, Renate Künast, the Green Minister of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture, is spelling out an innovative, more sustainable, vision. Perhaps most significant of all, reform of the monolithic, production-oriented Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) had now become a real prospect with the publication, in July 2002, of the Commission’s mid-term review. This proposed to cut the link between production and direct payments, to increase support for rural development, and to develop higher environmental, animal welfare, food safety and occupational safety standards.

So ‘sustainability’ in all its many different aspects – environmental, economic, political, scientific, technological, cultural – had now achieved a high place on local, national, European and international agendas for the first time for many years. Forum participants were eager to take the debate forward, and to investigate the complex interconnections between agriculture, rural communities, and every part of the food production chain.

Discussions focused on three main topics that together form the building blocks of
sustainability for farmers, consumers and the environment:
• achieving environmental sustainability for farming
• safeguarding diversity and local production in a globalising marketplace
• consumer confidence and food safety.
• For a detailed programme please click here
• For the participants list please click here
• For an English Summary (26 KB) please click here
• For a German Summary/Zusammenfassung (27 KB) please click here
• For a free download of the complete conference report please click here