Agriculture must be seen as part of the solution to addressing climate change to ensure food production is not compromised, farm chiefs have said.
As world leaders met for the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris this week, rural organisations highlighted the vital role land managers in the countryside will play in preparing landscapes and the farmed economy for an environmentally uncertain future.
Calling for a range of measures to help the agricultural industry become more resilient to the changing climate, rural chiefs urged the UK and world leaders to work with farmers to develop a plan of action.
It came as an NFU weather survey revealed almost 60 per cent of farmers had been affected by severe weather events in the last 10 years. See below for the results of the NFU weather survey
The union’s vice president Guy Smith said it was a stark reminder that agriculture was ‘on the front line’ of climate change impacts.
“From time immemorial farmers have always battled with the weather when it comes to producing food, but if climate change projections are correct then this battle is going to get more challenging,” said Mr Smith.
“Investment in better buildings, better land drainage and better irrigation can make farms more resilient in the face of tempest, flood and drought.
“But the food chain must support profitable farming in order to enable such agricultural adaptation, backed by Government setting the right regulatory regime – such as allowing farmers access to water so they are prepared for times of drought.”
A recent report published by the European Landowners Organisation demonstrated how the everyday work of farmers and landowners was critical to mitigating changing climate impacts.
It showed how land managers were already investing for both private and public benefit, from precision farming and water storage, to renewable energy generation and sustainable management of woodland.
CLA president Ross Murray said the sector needed to accommodate new and innovative ideas for the sustainable intensification of food production, and to encourage vital agricultural research and innovation.
He added landowners were committed to playing a ‘long term role in a creating a more secure and sustainable future’.
Leading agri-food businesses PepsiCo, Monsanto, Olam and Kellogg Company, used COP21 to set out their 2030 vision to make 50 per cent more food available while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent.
Hugh Grant, chairman and CEO of Monsanto, said: “Through advanced technologies and better farming practices, like reduced tillage, farmers around the world have made great strides to reduce GHG emissions and reduce overall resource use.
“Working together, the global agricultural community has the opportunity to leverage its resources to mitigate the effects of climate change while still meeting the food needs of our growing planet.”