THE future of food and farming in Ceredigion attracted more than 150 to an online People's Assembly debate.

The online discussion was co-hosted by Elin Jones MS and Sarah Wright from Extinction Rebellion (XR) Cardigan and provided a surge of positive feedback from people who would seldom be in the same meeting

Cabinet members from Ceredigion County Council and Ceredigion MP Ben Lake linked up with the likes of retired and current farmers, ecologists, smallholders, horticulturalists, food advisors and vendors.

Topics were diverse but all centred on the importance of agriculture and land use in its widest sense and how the current system might be made more sustainable in Ceredigion.

Attendees listened to introductions from Elin Jones MS and from XR Aberteifi who co-hosted the event, followed by short talks from the NFU, FUW, an ecologist, organic horticulturalists, the RSPB, Welsh food representatives, water and flooding, and Ben Lake MP.

People welcomed the opportunity to listen to experts and then form into small groups so the opinions of each individual could be listened to.

The 17 groups discussed what a sustainable farming system in Ceredigion might look like and how might we get there.

They noted their detailed answers and chose their main points to report back to the main meeting with recommendations covering a diverse field of topics, from education through to easier entry into farming.

The results are still being brought together but will be made available shortly. It is planned that the results will be sent to all participants, councillors, members of the Senedd and anyone else who wishes to see them.

"This is what open democracy is about. Now we need to build on it to make real and lasting change for a sustainable future. Similar assemblies can help us to build consensus in our urgent need to find a way forward to halt dangerous climate change." said Sarah Wright, co-host from Extinction Rebellion.

Elin Jones said: “If we’d organised a public meeting to discuss sustainable agriculture in a village hall somewhere between Llanon and Llanarth then we’d never have got over 150 people all in one place, with great speakers, breaking out to small groups and all over in two hours.

“But it happened on Zoom in Ceredigion.

“A constructive meeting with diverse voices but unity of purpose - a sustainable future for food production in Ceredigion.

“This was a start of a very useful discussion, the start of a great conversation and action.”