• War in Ukraine sparks concerns
• Robust energy and food policies
• Low impact agriculture important
Farmers are well-placed to help ensure the UK is better placed to meet more of its own food and energy needs, say experts.
The importance of renewable energy and robust food security has increased since the Ukraine war has triggered even sharper rises in food and energy prices, delegates were told at the recent Low Carbon Agriculture Show.
Speaking in a keynote session at the event, NFU renewable energy senior adviser Jonathan Scurlock said UK farm policy should address these concerns. “There are three big policy drivers: energy security, climate change and food security.”
Farm minister Victoria Prentis told the same session that the world had changed when Russia invaded Ukraine in February. The crisis had propelled agriculture up the agenda. Government schemes at all levels would encourage low carbon farm practices.
Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology, said: “If we accelerate UK renewable energy, we could create over 238,000 jobs in renewable and clean tech by 2030. Flexibility is the key to security.”
Lee Waters, the Welsh government’s deputy minister for climate change, spoke about the need for farm leaders, policymakers and practitioners to work together to ensure the UK meets its net zero targets.
“We know farming can deal with change and the choice is ours – do we act? Spending less on fertiliser and fewer chemicals is a no-brainer and means we will spend less money and have less environmental impact.”
Patrick Holden, founding director at the Sustainable Food Trust, underlined the need to produce as much food as possible – without diminishing natural capital. “For the first time there might be a business case for producing food in harmony with nature.”
Other sessions focused on soil health, carbon farming and renewable energy. NFU environment forum chairman Richard Bramley said: “Regenerative farming is a long journey, but you need to start somewhere. Identifying the items for you to address is key.”
This point was echoed by Gavin Lane, vie president of the Country Land and Business Association. “Determining a baseline is crucial to highlighting areas we can do something about,” he said.
The two-day Low Carbon Agriculture Show attracted 100 speakers. Taking place at Stoneleigh on 8-9 March, it included four key areas focusing on energy, the environment, low emission vehicles and farm technology.
Event director David Jacobmeyer said: “The show covered some of the most important issues affecting society today – energy security, climate change and food security. It was wonderful to see so many farmers.”