Recently the GWCT Allerton Project was delighted to host Mark Spencer MP, the new Farming Minister, and welcome back Jonathan Baker, Deputy Director, Programme Policy, Engagement and Strategy at Defra. This visit continued the Allerton Project’s strong long-term record of welcoming senior policymakers, advisors and civil servants to our 320ha working farm and research establishment.

The Minister was met by Sir Jim Paice, GWCT Chairman, and Teresa Dent CBE, Chief Executive, as well as Dr Alastair Leake, Director of the Allerton Project. The team took the opportunity to discuss Allerton’s thirty years of unique research into sustainable food, farming and landscape management and how future agricultural and environmental policy as embodied in the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme might best be implemented to achieve both sustainable domestic food production and a thriving natural environment.

Joe Stanley, Allerton’s Head of Training and Partnerships, said: “It was great that the Minister chose to visit the Allerton Project in his first weeks in post, which really speaks to the contribution which we have made to evidenced-based policymaking over the past decades. As government seeks to balance the dual imperatives of domestic food production and its environmental and climate goals as we move away from legacy European frameworks, it’s vital that it focusses not only on environmental sustainability but also the financial sustainability of the farms which act as stewards of 70% of the UK’s land area and are the key stakeholders in delivering public money for public goods. As always, it’s great to see policymakers out on-farm seeing how this can be achieved on the ground”.

During his time at the project, the Minister was shown various elements of the GWCT’s work, from the importance of predation management and habitat creation to the successful conservation of some of our rarest farmland species, to our long-term silvopasture trial, to our ongoing work on tillage techniques and the implications for soil carbon sequestration. The future shape and delivery of ELMs was also discussed, along with suggestions on how most efficiently to reward farmers and land managers for delivering natural capital services.

GWCT Allerton looks forward to continuing to contribute its expertise to the ongoing development of agricultural and environmental policy, and always welcomes interested parties to visit our working research farm.