Sustainable Farming Officer – Sustain UK

Jun 9, 2020


Sustain are seeking a creative and experienced communicator to help manage campaigns, research and policy activities on sustainable farming, fair supply chains and related issues.

Role is office-based in Cambridge Heath, London. Initially remote in line with the government’s COVID-19 guidelines.

Full-time, Monday to Friday.

£30,141 in addition Sustain matches pension contributions up to 5% of gross salary.

2 years fixed term with a 6-month probation period.


About this role

This is an exciting new full-time role at Sustain, principally to support the work of our Sustainable Farming Campaign Coordinator Vicki Hird. We are seeking someone who can work alongside Vicki and other colleagues to help manage campaigns, research and policy activities on sustainable farming, fair supply chains and related issues. The project officer will also have distinct areas of work to develop that will make a significant contribution to Sustain’s ability to influence innovative financial incentives, sustainable land use and better farming practice.

Further details of this important work are provided under ‘tasks and responsibilities’ below.

Sustain is committed to being an equal opportunities organisation. Our aim is to enable as wide a range of individuals, groups and networks as possible to be involved with our work and to ensure that no one is discriminated against in their contact with Sustain on grounds of gender, race, class, disability, religion, age, sexual orientation, or any other irrelevant basis.

Sustain recognises that diversity amongst its staff and networks is vital in maintaining the dynamic and innovative nature of the organisation. We are committed to employing the best staff for a given post and ensuring that all staff are recruited on merit. We will endeavour to ensure that new opportunities are made available to a wide variety of eligible candidates to promote diversity and equality of opportunity.

About Sustain’s work on sustainable farming and fair supply chains

The next three years are critical to establishing the UK’s approach to radically reducing climate emissions and restoring nature. Financial, market and policy innovation for farming and land use are central to the changes needed. Through research, engagement, advocacy and alliance-building, we want to reform harmful financial and policy drivers and to support tangible shifts towards a food system fit to address climate and nature emergencies in an equitable way. Both supply and demand side drivers matter, so we have two strands of work – on fair food trading systems and on sustainable farm policy and practice.

Working with a diverse alliance and expert working party, we are lobbying and campaigning to ensure that farmers and land managers are:

  • required to prioritise environmental stewardship, whilst also being able to make a decent living for themselves and their workers, being paid for non-market outcomes and providing healthy and affordable food from climate- and nature-friendly farming.
  • provided with the appropriate technological tools and training needed.
  • supported by the rules, incentives, markets and any new finance – to serve a just transition, including:
    • fair food trading systems and demand for sustainable food; and
    • fiscal policies, subsidies and wider sector support that influence what is grown and how.

Sustain’s Sustainable Farming programme works with many partners and members and runs a working party that meet to set objectives and work plans, whilst also coordinating with other networks. We undertake and learn from key research to inform the work and build powerful alliances and broaden the support for our work. We co-design and implement campaigns to influence policy makers and lobby or work with government, local authorities and land managers to achieve lasting change.

Tasks and responsibilities

The Sustainable Farming Officer will have a varied and exciting workload, will work closely with the Sustainable Farming Campaign Coordinator Vicki Hird and will work in collaboration with Sustain’s senior management, campaign staff, and project partners. The Officer’s responsibilities will include:

  • Running specific projects including research, policy and campaigns/engagement to further the Sustainable Farming campaign and objectives agreed by the working part and as part of the campaign strategy
  • Supporting the Coordinator in delivering on the campaign objectives
  • Initiating and managing defined research projects, for example on appropriate and affordable technologies for sustainable farming
  • Public engagement and broadening our support base including to new and diverse audiences and under-represented voices
  • Supporting new constituency mapping work that Sustain is planning, to show the local benefits and economic potential of sustainable farming and fair supply chains, and using these to influence communication with decision-makers, tailored to local needs
  • Contributing to Sustain’s parliamentary and local area engagement and communication, including representing Sustain at government and partner meetings and in the media

The key policy areas that the Officer’s work will contribute to are interlinked and will include (but are not limited to):

Sustainable farming policy: Securing key aspects and specific amendments in the UK Agriculture Bill, and strong and effective Environmental Land Management policies, through coordinated technical input and advocacy to secure adequate multi-annual budgets and other goals. Contributing as needed to work led by other colleagues on the Environment Bill, the National Food Strategy and further regulatory and fiscal areas related to farming and supply chains.

Better food trading: Driving policy, industry, local government and third sector action towards ambitious targets to grow the new fair and climate-friendly food trading, procurement and retail, to grow the market for agro-ecologically produced food and fair supply chains.

Sustainable land use policy: Securing land-use policy fit for the climate and nature emergency and a just transition. Supporting organisations and processes looking at sustainable land use – for example the Ten Years to Agro-ecology and IDDRI initiative led by the Soil Association; and advocacy work by the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission.

Climate and nature policy: Achieving recognition of sustainable food, farming and land use in climate and nature policies, including (national level) advocacy work with the UK Climate Change Committee; devolved policies and process; the UK’s climate commitments and nature-based solutions. Also (local level) supporting Sustain’s work with towns, cities and rural areas (collectively described as Sustainable Food Places) to declare food policies for climate and nature emergency; and supporting them to turn policy into action.

Green Economic Recovery: Achieving recognition by key policy makers, national and local funders and agencies, of the value of good food jobs and livelihoods in a just transition; growing support for key fiscal policies, such as supportive allocation of public funding; public food procurement opportunities; and rural development funds.


The Officer will also:

  • Contribute to the mutually supportive culture of Sustain, among the staff team, and project participants.
  • Support fundraising activities.
  • Support the maintenance of excellent financial, data and other records and reporting, to help with accountability to funders and stakeholders.
  • Be based in Sustain’s London office but the role may involve UK travel and occasional overnight stays.
  • The post holder will also undertake any other responsibilities in connection with the work that may arise from time to time, which may in the future include line management responsibilities.


Personal specification

Sustain is seeking a creative and experienced communicator with fantastic team working skills who shares our commitment to improving the farming and food system, and who has the following skills and experience:


  • Background and experience in farming, environment, or food business, trading, preferably with demonstrable experience and interest in ethical and sustainable models and the economics of farming 
  • Convincing experience of working effectively to influence policy and/or campaigning for change
  • Exceptional oral and written communication skills in fluent spoken and written English, with strong attention to detail and the ability to translate complex data and policies into accessible language and engaging stories and communication materials
  • Experience of communication strategies, media and social media coverage and wider communication tools aimed at achieving campaign goals
  • Some experience of undertaking and managing research projects and ideally of working with external consultants
  • Some experience of working in networks and alliances, relationship building and team working skills, supporting achievement of shared goals
  • Ability to work independently, with high levels of self-motivation
  • Good project management, time management and organisational skills and the ability to work under pressure and to meet deadlines
  • Energy, enthusiasm, creativity and tenacity
  • Availability to commence work promptly following the recruitment process


  • Digital campaigning and social networking skills
  • Consulting stakeholders and developing and supporting shared objectives
  • Experience of parliamentary affairs and working with parliamentarians or other decision-makers on policy matters
  • Confidence to put forward a case in meetings with people from diverse roles and backgrounds; and experience in arranging, chairing or facilitating meetings
  • Experience of working with editorial, design and IT colleagues to generate compelling communication materials
  • Good presentation and public speaking skills and ability to work effectively via online meeting platforms


How to apply

To apply for this position, please email your CV and a covering letter telling us about your experience and what you think you could bring to Sustain, to to arrive by 1st July 2020. As we are recruiting for several positions over this period, please add Sustainable Farming Officer to the subject line of your covering email along with your name.

Interviews for this position will likely take place virtually (via Zoom) on Monday 13th July 2020.

*** For additional details and further information about this job please visit the Sustain website here. ***

More about The Sustain Alliance here.

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