Two-thirds of farmers have noticed an increase in extreme weather, consistent with the climate change impacts predicted by scientists, revealed the NFU poll published on Monday (November 30). Most farmers reported changes in rainfall patterns and more flooding, with a quarter also noting an increase in storms, gales or high winds.
NFU vice president Guy Smith said: “It is very worrying that nearly 60% 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.”
‘Financial and emotional cost’
Before the last election the NFU urged the new government to boost investment in agri-science, including the development and approval of biotechnology through to commercialisation and introduce fiscal incentives that enable farm businesses to manage volatility and promote capital investment.
“We’re moving into uncharted climatic territory,” said Smith. “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 fulfill our substantial production potential for an increasingly uncertain future.”
Costs of climate change
“Submerged countries, abandoned cities, fields that no longer grow. Political disruption that could trigger new conflict.”
- US president Barak Obama
While farmers have always battled the weather, if climate change projections were correct, the fight will become even 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,” said Smith.
‘Times of 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.”
The NFU survey was based on the views of 527 farmers in England and Wales interviewed in July 2015. Some farmers reported less severe weather, with 10% saying that winters had become milder.
Meanwhile, US president Barak Obama urged nations to make the Paris climate change conference the turning point in global efforts to reverse global warming.
This year was on track to be the warmest on record and 14 of the world’s 15 warmest year had occurred since 2,000, he told conference delegates. “No nation, large or small, wealthy or poor, is immune to what this means,” he said.
Without concerted action, the world faced a grim future dictated by climate disruption. “Submerged countries, abandoned cities, fields that no longer grow. Political disruption that could trigger new conflict,” said Obama.
“And even more floods of desperate people seeking sanctuary in nations not their own.”
US president Obama on the costs of climate change
- Submerged countries
- Abandoned cities
- Fields that no longer grow
- Political disruption that could trigger new conflict
- Floods of climate-change refugees seeking sanctuary in other countries