In responding to the Committee on Climate Change’s report offering advice on UK agriculture policies, NFU Cymru has stated that Welsh farmers are ambitious and want to lead the way in climate-friendly food production.
NFU Cymru President John Davies said: “I’m pleased to see the Committee on Climate Change’s report acknowledge that British farming produces some of the most sustainable food in the world, highlighting that emissions from UK beef are half that of the global average. The report also emphasises that we can’t risk importing food with a higher carbon footprint than food which has been produced in the UK.
“A comprehensive approach across the whole UK economy is needed, and when it comes to farming we need to focus on the whole agricultural system. In the NFU’s own plans for net zero agriculture, planting trees and hedgerows to increase carbon stores on farmland play a crucial part, alongside increasing productivity – producing more from less – to deliver low-carbon farming as well as boosting renewable energy and bioenergy production. Of course, in order to realise this ambition we will need government and other stakeholders to put in place a range of policy measures and practices to allow our industry to achieve its climate change objectives.
“In the context of conversations about changing diets, it is important to remember that plant-based products do not always necessarily have a lower impact on the environment. Factors such as where and how the ingredients have been produced, the environmental pressures involved in its production, the environmental management associated with that country’s agricultural system and the natural resources available, as well as how far the product has travelled, all have an effect on a product’s carbon footprint. Clearer labelling has an important role to play in helping consumers make informed purchasing choices.
“In Wales, 74% of land is only suitable for grazing livestock and we have the right climate to produce high quality red meat and dairy from sustainable grass-based systems. Therefore it makes sense that, when talking about environmental impact, as the report suggests, the public continues to support Welsh livestock production.
“This is not just about reducing domestic and global greenhouse gas emissions, but protecting our natural environment as well. Water is the world’s most valuable resource and this is something we have a plentiful supply of here in Wales. Welsh farmers are efficient users of this important asset, for example, 85% of the water needed to produce Welsh beef comes from rainfall.
“As a nation, we can also be far more ambitious when it comes to cutting food waste. NFU Cymru believes the UK should be aiming for a 50% waste reduction throughout the whole food supply chain, which would also relieve pressure on people to make dietary changes.
“I firmly believe Welsh farmers are very much a part of the solution and have an important role to play in tackling climate change. Our members are committed to the challenge. We want to be the model for climate-friendly, sustainable food production around the world – food production that continues to include high quality and nutritious beef, lamb and dairy products for the world to enjoy as part of a healthy, balanced diet.”