As an exemplar case study, David Brass CEO of the Lakes Free Range Egg Company attended Westminster on Tuesday 15th September. He was invited to hear Secretary of State for the Environment, Rt Hon Liz Truss MP deliver a keynote speech at the launch the Wildlife and Countryside Link’s (LINK) vision of UK Agriculture.
Behind this new ‘Vision of UK Agriculture’ is the LINK’s Agricultural Working Group – a coalition of 46 voluntary NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organisations) which includes the Woodland Trust.
The LINK coalition is concerned with the conservation and protection of wildlife and the countryside. They have consulted with a wide range of stakeholders and held meetings with farmers, to develop their visions for farming and waters in England. These are outlined in two publications ‘Farming fit for the Future’ and ‘Blueprint for Water’ launched at the Westminster event.
The LINK vision for farming focuses on three core elements:
• Better for nature: A farmed landscape that is rich in wildlife, with healthy functioning and resilient ecosystems
• Better for people: Approaches to food and farming that are fair to farmers and wider society, and which promote health and wellbeing for all
• Better for our land and our livestock: Farms that look after and respect the land, and the farm animals on which we depend
The publications also includes examples of existing best practice and cites the Lakes Free Range Egg Company as the first exemplar of sustainable farming, demonstrating the commercial and environmental benefits of planting trees on hen ranges.
In the case study David Brass CEO at the Lakes Free Rang Egg Company says “the cost benefit of tree planting is one of the best in farming. Hens love the cover of trees and we’ve seen how canopy cover improves our animal welfare – they roam further and are less stressed. It costs us about £2,000 per hectare to plant trees, but this immediately improves the proportion of Grade A eggs by at least two per cent.”
“We’ve also seen wider environmental benefits with the return of Barn owls, Pipistrelle Bats and Red Squirrels returning to our farms. The trees also help to protect sensitive habitats and water quality by intercepting ammonia emissions and preventing run-off of pollutants.”
The launch of the Vision for UK Agriculture aims to support and deliver a sustainable, high quality, multi-functional rural environment by influencing and monitoring policy on rural development, agri-environment, bioenergy and animal welfare standards.
Speaking after the event, David Brass said “Taking a holistic view it is possible to be commercially and environmentally successful. We’ve worked closely with the Woodland Trust for some time and are an established supplier of ‘Woodland’ Eggs – a premium product that consumer’s value. It’s a win win for farming and the environment so we’re delighted to be included as a case study.”
The Wildlife and Countryside Link hope to support and deliver a sustainable, high quality, multi-functional rural environment by influencing and monitoring policy on rural development, agri-environment, bioenergy and animal welfare standards. Their event was hosted by Zac Goldsmith MP at the House of Commons, Westminster.