The NFU has warned a net zero emissions goal being pursued by the Government could make UK farmers ‘uncompetitive’.
The union’s deputy president, Guy Smith, made the remarks after a cross-party group of more than 100 MPs wrote to the Prime Minister to urge her to back the target.
In the letter, the MPs said the UK should become one of the first countries to set the goal in law, citing a recent poll by Opinium which showed 64 per cent of adults agreed emissions should be cut to zero over the next few decades.
The demand came shortly after Climate Minister Claire Perry promised to instruct the Government’s advisers to consider ways the UK could meet the target.
Mr Smith said: “When it comes to setting a zero carbon goal, regulators need to be mindful that in the case of agriculture, it is all too easy to make our own farmers uncompetitive through over-bearing regulation which will simply suck in higher carbon imports.
“Increasing the productive efficiency of livestock management and crop nitrogen management and making improvements to soil health would help to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and bring business benefits, but there are no silver bullets to deliver a net zero emissions farming system.”
The union also pointed out British farmers were helping to decarbonise other parts of the economy by installing or hosting renewable energy projects and supplying bioenergy feedstocks, somewhat balancing the industry’s emissions costs and benefits.
In Scotland, where the net zero target is also under consideration, outgoing Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) chair Jim McClaren said it 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.