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Farmers put agroecology firmly on the agenda at COP26

Farmers put agroecology firmly on the agenda at COP26

As the dust settles in Glasgow, we’ve drawn together the highlights of our contribution to advocating for agroecological farming practices as the way forward.

WWF discussion, Nature: the unsung hero of our food system

Hosted in the WWF pavilion the panel was chaired by Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland; with Scottish Greens MSP Lorna Slater; John Mwangi, Kenya chair of the Network for Ecofarming in Africa; James Owen, deputy director of Land Management Reform in the Welsh government; German politician Renate Künast, from Alliance 90/The Greens.

Watch the whole discussion here.

The event started with films from four of our Scottish-based farmer ambassadors.


Denise Walton, organic farmer from Peelham Farm, Berwickshire  

“Restoring hedgerows, bringing in smaller fields, in order for us to farm in a mixed farming manner, has been key to building our farm assets.”

Watch Denise’s short film about habitat restoration, cover crops and herbal leys. 

Johnnie Balfour, Balbirnie Home Farms, Fife 

“It’s cheaper to grow grass by moving cattle about … than it is to put fertilizer on it. And it’s cheaper to feed a cow standing in a field than it is to feed a cow silage standing in a shed.” 

Watch Johnnie’s short film about mob grazing. 

Andrew Barbour, organic farmer from Mains of Fincastle, Perthshire 

“The industry is on an agroecology journey whether it knows it or not and the markets will move the industry that way.”

Watch Andrew talk about the benefits of agroforestry to the environment, livestock and bottom line. 

Nikki Yoxall, Grampian Graziers, Howemill Farm, Aberdeenshire  

“I really hope leaders and thinkers can consider a broader approach to natural capital, and how we can take into account the massive benefit that livestock can bring to our countryside.”

Nikki talks about agroecological farming, agroforestry, tall grass grazing, the environment and society. 


Agroecology: a solution to the climate, nature and health crisis 

Chaired by our Head of Policy in Scotland David McKay, with support from Nourish Scotland, this session set out to connect the dots from farm to fork. 

COP26 Nourish WWF discussion

David was joined by Soil Association farmer ambassadors Denise Walton and Andrew Barbour, with NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy and Pete Ritchie, Executive Director at Nourish Scotland. The panel explored the role that agroecology can play in tackling the interconnected crises and why Scotland and the UK needs to urgently transition towards more sustainable farming practices. 

Outlining the current situation, Martin Kennedy said “Low food prices have driven local food processors out of business. We need the Government to focus on this if we want to support local food suppliers and networks”. 

When asked how agroecology could move into the mainstream, he continued, ‘Industry as a whole is looking at agroecology – not as a one size fits all, but what we are doing at home is improving soil health and quality ... there is not enough attention on looking at soil health.” 

Peter Ritchie agreed. “The big buyers and supply chain managers are the gatekeepers with lots of influence. They also understand the industry. Most of the people buying our food have never been to a farm or understand farming. We need to influence the gatekeepers.”