A leading grower from Kent will be representing the interests of farmers and growers from the South East on the NFU’s national environment forum.
Apple and pear grower James Smith, managing director of Loddington Farm, Maidstone joins the forum which has responsibility for steering and shaping the NFU’s environment policy. The forum covers policy areas including, but not exclusively, air quality, access and rights of way, agri-environment, biodiversity, climate change, water quality, waste, soil, flooding and water resources.
Mr Smith, a Nuffield scholar and a former chairman of Kent NFU, has embraced regenerative agriculture practices on his farm.
He said: “I am delighted to be joining the NFU’s national environment forum at such a critical time of change for our industry when we are all working towards an ambition to be net zero by 2040. I am passionate about farming with nature to produce nutrient-dense food for a healthier world, and I think the pandemic has helped consumers to recognise the importance of home-grown food. Working with the NFU, I will be helping to fight the corner for food producers. Not only is a new domestic agricultural policy being shaped, but one of the biggest pieces of legislation for a quarter of a century, the Environment Bill, is going through Parliament. I hope we can ensure decision-makers understand the critical role farmers and growers play in delivering a secure supply of food while tackling climate change.”
James Smith has been transitioning towards chemical-free farming since 2020 and is focussing on soil health as the foundation of his farming system. Former orchard land is given a break with the planting of cover crops that are then grazed sheep to boost organic matter and improve soil health. In addition, new orchards are planted with diverse swards to increase biodiversity. Loddington Farm is also diversifying with new crops such as apricots, cherries, aronia berries and juniper, as well as livestock. Last year the business acquired Owlet Fruit Juice to add value to more of its crops.
Mr Smith added: “Everything at Loddington Farm is about embracing nature, and farming with biology, rather than chemistry. It’s an exciting time to be farming and joining the forum is a great way to influence positive changes for UK agriculture.”