Serving the Farming Industry across East Anglia for 35 Years
More public and private investment is needed for livestock farmers to reach net zero, the government has been told. ‘More support needed for farming to reach net zero’

• UK farming lags behind other sectors

• Private funding would boost support

• Further encouragement still required

More public and private investment is needed for livestock farmers to reach net zero, the government has been told.

The warning follows a raft of government announcements on green finance, net zero and energy security. The National Sheep Association said the plans were welcome but fell short and failed to specify the investment needed for agriculture.

The anouncements set out how the government plans to enhance the UK’s energy security, seize the economic opportunities of low carbon transition and deliver the government’s net zero commitment by 2050.

Defra ministers have pledged to maintain funding at £2.4bn for farming and the environment for the duration of the current parliament. But the department estimates that agriculture still accounts for 11% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions.

Welcoming the government’s commitment to develop a consistent approach for measuring emissions, NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said it was likely private money would have to bolster public funds for farming to reach net zero targets.

“While other industries have seen high levels of investment, Defra policies are currently inadequate to enable targets to be met, and new future farming schemes are not being adequately measured and evaluated in terms of their contribution to net zero.

Lagging behind

“Defra is being widely blamed for a lack of investment in policies that lead us to net zero and as a result agriculture is lagging behind improvements being made in some other industries such as the energy sector where moves towards renewables are clear to see.”

The government’s strategy outlines a Defra target of securing £1bn of private funding for nature recovery by 2030. And it pledges to work with the British Standards Institute to develop clear rules for farmers to access private payments for nature provision.

Mr Stocker said the existing £2.4bn budget provided some comfort – but was inadequate if a true value was placed on the public goods already delivered by agriculture, let alone meeting future climate, nature and natural resource challenges.

Challenges ahead

“We absolutely should expect future governments to not just continue this investment into our industry but to increase the budget based on the challenges ahead.

“While agriculture needs to reduce emissions, we also need agreed methods to take account of the entire carbon cycle including the role of sequestration in soils, grassland, and farm habitats such as hedgerows.

“The more we can reduce emissions the more offsetting sequestration opportunities arise to create income for the farm business, so to focus on both makes sense.

“We also need to make sure these private funding opportunities are made accessible for your average farmer not just for large operators or wildlife organisations who have the ability to produce a glossy prospectus.”