Farming News - British farmers leading the way in climate-friendly food

British farmers leading the way in climate-friendly food

05 Jul 2019
Frontdesk / Arable / Livestock

Devon cattle

Speaking at today's (5 July) Farming and Climate Change Conference co-hosted by the NFU and the Sustainable Food Trust, NFU President Minette Batters will emphasise that every farmer has a role to play in contributing towards the industry’s net zero aspiration. She will also urge the government to provide effective incentives to help farmers reach this target by 2040.

The conference will be exploring which farming methods can make this target achievable, along with the policy and economic changes necessary to make it financially viable. 

Designed to explore the unique capacity of farming systems to address the threats of climate change, biodiversity and soil carbon loss, while producing high quality, health-promoting food, speakers at the event will include broadcaster and author Jonathan Dimbleby, deputy Labour leader Tom Watson, Extinction Rebellion co-founder Gail Bradbrook and Natural England chair Tony Juniper.

Mrs Batters will say:

“Climate change is the greatest and most compelling challenge facing society today and each and every one of us has a part to play to mitigate the climate threat. For farmers, this means tackling the climate challenge head on – adapting the way we produce food to help deliver a greener planet for us all.

“The British farming industry is pushing itself to become net zero by 2040. This does not need to impact net farm income, and certainly doesn’t mean downsizing production or exporting our production abroad. Instead we need to implement a portfolio of methods to improve our production efficiency, capture more carbon on farmland and boost our production of bioenergy and land-based renewables. Effective incentives are going to be vital in each of these areas.

“As both a sink and a source of greenhouse gases, British agriculture is uniquely placed to be a key part of the solution to the climate challenge. Our unique landscape and diverse farming systems enable us to produce food efficiently and sustainably, and we have been very clear in our ambition to build on this further and lead the way in climate-friendly food production.

“Our journey towards climate neutrality must be made together. If we work together, learn from each other and share our ideas, I truly believe we can reach our net zero aspiration, and show the world that it can be done.”

Patrick Holden CEO of the Sustainable Food Trust said: “The solutions to this challenge may be quite radical and require the most fundamental shift in farming practices for a century. Namely a return to mixed farming that avoids the use of chemical inputs, builds fertility through pastures and a diversification of enterprises. There's also a very important role for grass-fed and mainly grass-fed livestock cattle and sheep in the sustainable farming systems. Something that may be quite a surprise to people who believe eating red meat is part of the problem when we're saying, if managed in the right way, it's potentially part of the solution.”