The NFU has filmed a mock weather forecast to highlight the importance of a fair share of water for crop and livestock production.
The forecast for 11 July 2050 highlights the impact of climate change – including scorching summer temperatures – that growers and livestock producers can expect to experience on their farms.
The Met Office predicts UK summer heatwaves every other year by 2050. Published on YouTube, the forecast is presented by farmer James Johnson. It predicts high temperatures of 45ºC and a widespread risk of standing crop fires.
The NFU forecast warns farmers to maintain air conditioning units in their sheds amid serious concerns about animal heat stress. And it suggests planting Mediterranean drought-resistant trees to help provide shade for livestock.
The NFU released the forecast to emphasise the need for a national integrated water management strategy. Doing so would help farmers achieve their goal of leading the world in climate-friendly food production, it said.
NFU president Minette Batters has repeatedly called on the government, water companies and farmers to invest properly in water management. A collaborative approach was essential to secure an adequate water into the future, she said.
“We cannot underestimate the importance of food production as we chart a course through our climate challenges. We can deliver on our net zero pledge while retaining, if not growing, our agricultural capacity, but adopting a new approach to water is vital.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change already accepts that climate change is affecting food security, predicting that food supply could well become more unstable as extreme weather leads to greater disruption of supply chains.
“We must make far better use of abundant winter rainfall, rather than simply pumping it out into the North Sea as we currently do,” said Mrs Batters. “This will require a collaborative approach involving both public and private sector partners and farmers.”