Professor E. John Wibberley, PhD, FRAgS,
University of Reading & Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester, UK
During a period when agricultural management signals and imperatives are being reviewed internationally, this paper explores the balance between production-linked and environmental care aspects. It reviews the case of the UK, especially England with particular reference to Exmoor in the south-west. However, it seeks to elicit some principles that may seem to apply internationally. After a review of policy signals and reactions over the past half-century or so in the UK, it outlines the September 2018 Agriculture Bill, discusses the changes it may herald, and the issues that need to be incorporated in the final Environmental Land Management System (ELMS) being debated in the UK Parliament at the time of writing. These include a global perspective on farming policies, agricultural innovations, energy security and care of the farmed landscape. It is argued that an overarching vision of Ecosystem Security includes people and it is proposed that food production and productivity (measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input) must be included within the ‘envelope’ of ecosystem services and in the valuation of natural capital. Both necessary agricultural productivity and responsible environmental management are mutually inclusive and require policies that integrate them as simply as is possible.