UK - As the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) today hosts its ‘Farmers’ Day’, a new survey from the National Farmers Union has highlighted the damage that severe weather events have inflicted upon the agriculture industry over the past decade.
The survey, which used interviews of 527 farmers in England and Wales in July, revealed that two-thirds of farmers have noticed an increase in extreme weather, consistent with the climate change impacts predicted by scientists.
The majority of NFU members surveyed have seen changes in rainfall patterns and more flooding, with 25 per cent also observing an increase in storms, gales or high winds. However, some farmers actually reported less severe weather, with 10 per cent saying that winters had generally become milder.
NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “It is very worrying that nearly 60 per cent of farm businesses have actually been affected by severe weather events in the last 10 years. This news comes as a stark reminder that agriculture is on the front line of climate change impacts.
“These statistics show the financial and emotional cost that changing weather patterns are having on our members and it reinforces the need for some of our key 2015 election manifesto asks to be met.”
During the last election the NFU set the incoming government several challenges which included:
- Increased investment in UK-relevant agri-science including development and approval of biotechnology through to commercialisation.
- Fiscal incentives that enable farm businesses to manage volatility and promote capital investment.
Earlier this year, the NFU successfully argued that farmers’ taxable profit averaging should be extended from two to five years to help our members manage the impact of volatility. But more needs to be done.
Mr Smith added: “From time immemorial farmers have always battled with the weather when it comes to producing food, but if climate change projections are correct then this battle is going to get more challenging.
"Investment in better buildings, better land drainage and better irrigation can make farms more resilient in the face of tempest, flood and drought.
"But the food chain must support profitable farming in order to enable such agricultural adaptation, backed by Government setting the right regulatory regime – such as allowing farmers access to water so they are prepared for times of drought.”
“This survey shows that our members are altering what they do in response to the changes in the weather and longer-term climate that they are experiencing. However we’re moving into uncharted climatic territory.
"This is why we want Government to work with British farmers to develop an ambitious food and farming strategy, rewarding investment in climate resilience so that we can fulfil our substantial production potential for an increasingly uncertain future.”
TheCropSite News Desk