At our conference in November 2017, ‘A Hope and a Future for Farming’, we were reminded of our hope in Christ. Not worldly wishful thinking but the future guarantee of the glory of God, accessed by faith into his grace. (Romans 5). In the midst of change and uncertainty we can know that we have an amazing future. There may be setbacks and frustrations now, but God can use them to develop character, which in turn produces a hope that will not disappoint. This is the foundation of our work as ACF, bringing a distinctively Christian approach to our farming world.
We want to share with you some of our latest decisions and ideas.
We see two immediate tasks, the first concerns the role of ACF in respect of present day realities and the second concerns the life and vitality of ACF itself.
THE ACF RELATING TO PRESENT DAY CONCERNS
We recognise that farming and indeed the country is facing a period of great uncertainty because of Brexit and that whatever the eventual course of the disengagement - soft or hard - it is likely that farming and farmers will face very real changes in the coming 2-5 years as a result of changes in farm payments, trade and employment. There are however opportunities to help inform and influence the future of farming. This is perhaps one of the most significant periods of legislation in the food and farming sector in a life-time.
ACF has access to realms of farming reality derived from the experience of the Farming Community Network (FCN), which are largely hidden from those advocating a variety of futures for farming. We have a perspective rooted both in farming reality and in Christian belief and practice. We have played a role in helping churches at both the local and national level to understand some farming issues in a Christian light. It is therefore planned to share these insights with the churches and to encourage them to use this information to influence the processes of change through their own formal and informal networks.
In addition, we feel a strong call to reengage with networks of organisations concerned with a range of food and farming issues – animal welfare, the environment and overseas
development – that until recently we have worked very closely with. We see these links as important both in order to learn from their work, but also to insert our understanding of farming into their thinking. One way that we feel we might do this is to feed our ideas and thinking on farming, the countryside, climate change and trade into the recently established independent Commission that has been set up to consult all interested parties on these and related issues and to make recommendations to government bringing all the aspects together: see (https://www.thersa.org). Similarly, the Government is also moving forward with a new DEFRA farm policy consultation that we also want to engage with.
THE ACF ITSELF
The Conference identified that ACF needs more members particularly younger ones. This means engaging with agricultural students, young farmers clubs and other groupings. It also means working more closely with our members and being prepared to ask them to consider doing appropriate things from time to time.
In order that ACF might be more effective in all of this work twehave asked Adrian Cullis, who has recently returned from Ethiopia, to take up the role of Coordinator for up to two days a month. To support Adrian’s work, including his time and travel, we will develop a fund-raising strategy that will include asking members to prayerfully consider supporting this work. We will be sending you more detailed information on how you might do this separately.
As a Fellowship we recognise that we can do nothing of substance unless we operate at all times and in all places within the will of God and that in this way we are part of the bringing-in of the Kingdom of God. We are therefore asking Members to add the ACF to prayer lists and to pray faithfully for the Committee, the Members, the work and also that we might secure the funds that we require to grow the work at this time.