The NFU has said UK farmers must aim to cut all greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production by 2040.
Union president Minette Batters told a session at the Oxford Farming Conference climate change was one of the greatest challenges facing the industry and British producers were ‘ready to take action’.
“Our ambition is to strive for net zero greenhouse gas emissions across the whole of agricultural production by 2040,” she said.
“A combination of policies and practises are needed to achieve this aim, and the NFU is looking to build upon our work with industry led initiatives such as the Greenhouse Gas Action Plan to help deliver this ambition.
“We also look forward to a smart and well-targeted partnership with Government and other agricultural stakeholders to build a sustainable, competitive and profitable UK farm sector which is fit to deliver the environmental and social needs of the nation and wider world.”
Just a few months ago outgoing Quality Meat Scotland chairman Jim McLaren said a net zero aspiration – also being mooted in Scotland - would have ‘devastating consequences’ for the agricultural industry and could well put an end to livestock production.
He claimed the current targets for reducing emissions were already world leading and had led to significant improvements.
NFU deputy president Guy Smith also previously warned it was ‘all too easy to make our own farmers uncompetitive through over-bearing regulation which will simply suck in higher carbon imports’.
Mrs Batters said the target was ’essential’ in order to match the ambitions of other world leading countries such as Ireland and New Zealand.
It would also avoid other more harmful measures such as a tax on meat to reduce its impact on climate change - a suggestion put forward by Green Party leader Caroline Lucas at the conference.
"I do not think we have an choice but to take hold of this agenda," she added.
"We need an incentivised policy so we can avoid things like a meat tax and a policy that fits with productive agriculture rather than working against it."