Embracing regenerative agriculture

Press/Media: Expert Comment

Subject

Recent news stories 
around the environment, 
particularly those focused 
on Lough Neagh, have often set farmers and environmentalists at odds with one another.
While some believe farmers 
are being unfairly scapegoated, it's 
clear that current intensive farming practices have been linked to 
damaging consequences for the 
climate and nature, as well as soil 
health, gas emissions and water 
quality and usage.
Agriculture has long been an 
innovative sector and one of the 
models being considered to ensure 
future sustainability of food production is regenerative farming.
While there isn't yet a UK certification that outlines what constitutes regenerative agriculture, the 
Wildlife Trust define it as “an approach to farming that, in theory, 
allows the land, the soil, water, 
nutrients, and natural assets to regenerate themselves, as opposed to 
conventional approaches to farming that can deplete these natural 
resources”.
A recent survey by UK policy think-tank Demos surveyed 
1,500 farmers and policy experts, 
identifying five main benefits of a 
regenerative approach to farming, including: 1. Protecting soil 
health and fertility; 2. Reducing 
greenhouse gas emissions and 
improving biodiversity; 3. Increasing long-term farm profitability; 4. 
Increasing farm resilience against 
extreme weather and supply disruption; and 5. Enhancing food 
security and resilience.
While a regenerative approach 
to agriculture has a tendency to 
promote on the many environmental benefits it can bring to a 
local ecosystem, such benefits can 
extend beyond the environment to 
consumers.
In a report by the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission 
(FFCC, 2023), after several public 
dialogue sessions they found that 
consumers demanded greater 
support for farmers to farm more 
sustainably with more government 
investment and incentives.
Furthermore, in a nationwide 
poll by the FFCC of 2,000 consumers, they found that 82 per cent 
of consumers stated that it is important to produce food without 
harming the planet.
This increasing consumer appetite for foods that are produced 
in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way poses a challenge 
to both the farmer and all key players across the supply chain.
For such an approach to be 
successful, it will require systems 
change for everyone – people, place 
and businesses alike.
The Sustainable Restaurant Association highlights that “supporting regenerative agriculture offers 
many of the same business benefits as choosing local or organic”. 
In doing so, it identified some key 
benefits for the hospitality industry to include regenerative farmed 
ingredients on the menu. For example, reassuring the customer of 
the transparency, traceability and 
provenance of the food they serve.
With this in mind, regenerative 
hospitality reaches far beyond established commitments to sustainability. It puts the active revival of 
biodiversity, the empowerment 
of under-represented people, the 
protection of distinctive cultures 
and the vitality of rural and urban 
locations at its core.
If you wish to learn more about 
regenerative approaches to hospitality, the Regenerative Hospitality 
Summit 2024 is a transformative 
event from Ulster University and 
Oxford Cultural Collective that 
seeks to explore and implement 
strategies that harmonise the activities of hospitality, food, and 
drink organisations with the natural ecosystems, communities, and 
places they inhabit.
The summit is being held from 
May 5-8 in Transylvania, Romania. 
We invite forward-thinking farmers and local hospitality providers 
to participate. For more information visit https://www.ulster.
ac.uk/regenerative-hospitality or 
email HTEM@ulster.ac.uk
- Article co-written with 
Matthew Fegan (UUBS, 
placement student)

Period22 Feb 2024

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