Organisations representing the agricultural industry in England today (4 April) launched a joint Greenhouse Gas Action Plan (GHGAP) setting out how the industry will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by three million tonnes of CO2 equivalents from 2018-2022 without compromising domestic production.
The Action Plan focuses on how farmers, regardless of their farming system, can become more efficient to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions while making cost savings per unit of production. The Plan aims to make the most of existing initiatives such as "Roadmaps" and "Tried & Tested" and will report on the progress made by farmers and land managers as they improve their use of energy, nutrients and their own carbon footprint.
Speaking at the action plan's launch in Westminster, Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said: "Our farmers are making an important commitment to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and we will continue to support them to achieve this. I'd really like to see the industry seizing this opportunity and I look forward to seeing real action in farms across the country.
"This is the first step on the farming sector's road to becoming more sustainable and I expect the partner organisations to show clear leadership as industry works to meet this challenge."
CLA Vice-President Henry Robinson said: "Avoiding harmful climate change is in the interest of everybody including farmers and other land managers. The target that the Government has set us is achievable if we can raise awareness and get key information out.
"Over a period of time, on top of these emission reductions we can also make a big contribution in carbon sequestration and producing land-based renewable energy. We are determined to show that the land sector can be part of the solution."
NFU Vice-President Gwyn Jones said: "The main focus of our Action Plan concerns how farmers and growers can become more efficient, producing more with fewer resources and fewer emissions. This is good news for farm businesses and good news for the environment. By optimising our production efficiency, we can actually reduce emissions per unit of output.
"Our objectives are consistent with the recent UK Foresight Report on the future of food and farming. We strongly believe that 'sustainable intensification' will enable us to produce more with a reduced impact on the planet."
David Caffall, AIC Chief Executive, said: "AIC has two key contributions to make to driving down GHG emissions. Our members' network of advisers contributes to the delivery of the industry-led action plan, providing high quality advice to support best practice and efficiency in crop and livestock production. In addition, emissions are also being reduced by improvements in fertilisers and feed manufacture."
Professor Ian Crute, Chief Scientist at AHDB, said: "Enabling farmers and growers simultaneously to elevate efficiency and achieve reductions in GHG emissions is a high strategic priority for AHDB. The GHG Action Plan provides the framework for AHDB to enhance its working relationships with other organisations in delivery of its 'Roadmaps' and associated initiatives.
"Our work on farm shows that more efficient farm businesses have reduced costs at the same time as lowering greenhouse gas emissions per unit of production therefore, there are clear business and environmental benefits to farmers and growers."
Click to download the Action Plan
Read a Q&A
For further information download a position paper
The sixteen organisations representing the agricultural industry are ADAS, Country Land & Business Association (CLA), National Farmers Union (NFU), Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC), Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), Organic Research Centre (ORC), Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG), Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF), Agricultural Engineers Association (AEA), British Poultry Council (BPC), National Institute of Agricultural Botany – The Arable Group (NIAB-TAG), and the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE).