Government sets out plans to cut carbon emissions in farming

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The government has unveiled plans to cut carbon emissions in a bid to tackle climate change and farming is also targeted there.

The Low Carbon Transition Plan calls on farming to reduce emissions to 6% lower than the level predicted for 2020.

It suggests this should be done through an industry led voluntary plan which includes:

* More efficient use of fertilizer and better management of livestock and manure.
* More accurate measuring, reporting and verification of agricultural emissions.
* Encouraging private funding for woodland to increase carbon uptake.
* Support for anaerobic digestion.

NFU chief renewable energy adviser Jonathan Scurlock welcomed the proposals.

"The NFU is delighted that the government has listened to and worked with us and the joint industry Climate Change Task Force over the past 18 months and has incorporated some of our ambitions into its own goals. These include nutrient management plans and on-farm anaerobic digesters.

"We look forward to working up a voluntary industry plan towards the challenging but realistic greenhouse gas reduction targets set out in the Low Carbon Transition Plan, and working with the Carbon Trust and other partners to support energy efficient and low carbon farming."

But Peter Melchett, policy director of the Soil Association, said the emission reductions planned for farming were incredibly modest and that reflected the government's complete lack of a long-term strategy for climate friendly farming.

"The plan to cut farming emissions by a tiny 6% by 2020 means the farming industry risks having to make massive cuts of over 70% between 2020 and 2050.

"The government themselves admit that farming, land use and waste will only contribute 4% of the emission savings that they hope to make by 2020.

"Although the government claims that their Transition Plan will "help protect the equivalent of over 37 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide that is currently locked into natural reservoirs of carbon in our soils and forests", the fact is there is nothing new in the plan which will do anything to reduce losses of carbon from our agricultural soils."

Once again the farmers and their “leaders” are winging, as per usual, and find reasons that this or that cannot be done, while at the same time welcoming the bio-gas digsters. As that would save money and I guess the government also will give grants for that they are all for it but when being told they should reduce the use of the fertilizers and such then we have them huffing and panting though they keep complaining on other occasions as to the price of such things and how much that adds to the overall costs of their operations.

We must go further still in farming if we want to have a sustainable farming “industry” and food too feed the nation.

Yes, I just said “nation”, for I do not believe that we should be working towards surplus to export. Farming should work for the nation first and only when everything is satisfied here, in the homeland, and all demand met, only then, and only then, anything that may be left can go for export.

I must say that I do agree with paying our farmers properly for what they produce for it makes no sense that I pay just under $1.30 for a liter of milk when the farmer gets less than 30cents. This does not compute. But, I once again digressed.

In order for low-carbon farming to succeed and work farming as an industry will have to change and change significantly. Trip back to the past is required in order to move forward into a low-carbon environmentally friendly future for farming.

© 2009