On the 25th of October 2022 WWF, together with the Federation of Swedish Farmers (LRF) and the Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket), organized the webinar “The farmer as a nutrient steward – best practices for enabling sustainable agriculture”. The webinar is a part of a series of webinars organized under the umbrella of the Baltic Stewardship Initiative.
Building on the notion that the farmer is a “nutrient steward” – meaning they are ultimately the ones with the power to influence the nutrient flows in the food system by choosing how they produce our food – we aim to put the perspective of the farmers in focus. Further also discussing possible ways to support farmers to create more sustainable and Baltic friendly practices.
During the webinar, we heard from Swedish, Danish, and Estonian experts and farmers. The three biggest takeaways from the webinar:
Public-funded advisory services for farmers is important.
The Swedish “Focus on nutrients”- project has been running for over 20 years and has reached thousands of farmers across Sweden by visiting farms and using a very well-developed online service. The project is a cooperation between the Federation of Swedish Farmers, the Swedish Board of Agriculture and the County Administration Boards. Financed by the Swedish Rural Development Program.
Catchment officers make a big difference by supporting farmers to design and finance measures against eutrophication.
In Denmark and Sweden, there are existing schemes and a large number of catchment officers that work on a local level within specific catchment areas to help farmers and other actors put forward measures to combat eutrophication. The funding is public and stems from national, regional, or municipal budgets. Even though this is established in both countries there is a need for many more projects and skilled advisors to make the best out of the existing funding and to reach the overall goals of the Water Framework Directive and national objectives.
There is a need for rewarding farmers that produce food with minimized risk of causing eutrophication.
Currently, farmers do not get paid extra for taking measures beyond each country’s legal standards. The Baltic Stewardship Initiative has put together a group of farmers, food companies, retailers, and other experts working on developing a tool or market mechanism which would reward farmers acting to combat eutrophication. The idea is to develop criteria and a model that can be the base for companies in the food chain to reward the Baltic friendly farming.
WWF is also highlighting and promoting Baltic friendly farmers with the annual Baltic Sea Farmer Award. This award is a recognition to farmers that display good examples of Baltic friendly practices across the Baltic Sea region.