Sustainability BLOG POSTS

Sarah Bell outside No. 10 Downing Street

Mobilising Nature Finance for Farmers and Land Managers

June 2023
There is little new in receiving an invitation to a meeting entitled “Mobilising Nature Finance for Farmers and Land Managers.” When it is in 10 Downing Street, there is little reason to decline, so I read through the numerous documents and hopped on a train. This looked like a passive listening exercise; Therese Coffey announced additional Defra funding for NEIRF. I’ve explored the website but haven’t yet determined if it aligns with my approach to environmental improvement, which prioritises high impact, low-tech, low-risk, and low-cost solutions. Read more...
Tractor and combine harvester working in a field

Rethink – Does COP matter to Agriculture?

January 2023
When asked for a farmers view of COP for the Radio 4 rethink episode (link here), I found myself thinking “buzz words and policy wonks”, and really struggled to find specific concrete examples of how and where it has made a difference. The sceptic in me leapt straight to thinking it is a platform for voices to send messages about their ideals, virtue signal and maybe even a hook to hang the promo of their latest book or paper on. Read more...
Sarah Bell on the farm

Women Growing Grain

December 2022
A long form conversation recorded for the BBC World Service in July 2022 during the peak of the drought in what has turned out to be the warmest year on record. It is remarkable how similar the pressures are on farmers the world over – the climate, the people, the politics and the paradigm all making generational impacts. Read more...
Close up if oilseed rape growing in a field

Agribusiness needs to keep pace with rapid changes in farming

September 2020
Farming is moving faster than policy and business at the moment. Rather than being at a crossroads as is often suggested, farmers are on a fast-moving motorway, and they are doing everything they can to avoid running out of fuel. Read more...

Sustainability in the supply chain: how to avoid ‘greenwash’ criticism

February 2020
I’m accustomed to a little cynicism around corporate sustainable responsibility. Critics dismiss it as ‘greenwash’; too little too late for the sake of some positive PR. Read more...
Sarah Bell in field with iPad

Sustainable – people profit planet, without profit, people and planet suffer​

January 2020
The Paris agreement has driven companies to “do something” as investors are now asking more probing questions. However, because the commodity markets are unwilling to reward sustainable products in their pricing, there is an ugly dynamic. The farm becomes the point at which sustainability (and the value associated with that) is generated. Arguably in the UK many farmers are as sustainable as the outbound price of their product will allow them to be. Where farmers are selling in to a market which doesn’t differentiate from a price perspective between sustainable and unsustainable, there is little opportunity to make different decisions, for better outcomes. Read more...
Crop harvesting

Ingredients and the supply chain: how to protect yourself against Brexit uncertainty

March 2019
British Agriculture faces an uncertain future. Whether you crossed the box for Leave or Remain in the EU referendum, there is one paradoxical certainty ahead of us all: change. Read more...
Wheat field

The Data Taboo in Agriculture

March 2019
Heard the one about the farmer who couldn’t decide what was best for his business and asked all of his neighbours within a ten mile radius whether or not he should go organic? Read more...