Reward farmers who help fight climate crisis, urges thinktank

The government must establish a 'new deal for farming' that secures farmers' livelihoods while they help fight the climate crisis, a thinktank says.

The current system being developed should better encourage producers to take action to adopt green measures, the Institute For Public Policy Research (IPPR) argues.

And at the same time, the government should design financial support schemes that are 'accessible to the majority of farmers'.

In the UK, agriculture contributes around 10 percent of the country's greenhouse emissions, according to figures.

As well as the climate crisis, farmers are facing their biggest upheaval in 50 years as the UK leaves the EU payment schemes and forges new trade deals.

The thinktank's new report argues that the time is now for the government to support farmers to face these multiple challenges with a 'new deal'.

It says that the government’s plans for paying farmers for managing their farms in a way that benefits the environment must be 'clarified and improved'.

There is a 'clear risk' that as currently proposed, the scheme will only 'support business as usual'.

Financial support schemes need to be designed to be accessible to all farmers, the IPPR says, but with sufficient incentives to progress ambitious environmental targets.

And public money should not be used to fund farms that aren’t providing a benefit to the public, its report adds.

Luke Murphy, head of IPPR's environmental justice commission, said that as of present, farms were 'making the climate crisis worse'.

“If farming is to be at the vanguard of the battle against climate change and for the recovery of nature, then responsible farming must be profitable," he said.

"It has to offer good livelihoods for farmers and workers, and for farms of different types and sizes.

“To see this realised, the government must step up to support current and future farmers through the many changes they are facing.”

The report also calls for more support for young people to get into farming by encouraging community ownership of farms and land sharing schemes when existing owners retire.

On the topic of international trade, any new deals with other countries should set high standards for animal welfare and the preservation of nature, the IPPR says.

They should also protect British farmers by not allowing unfettered access to UK markets for food produced to lower environmental standards.

Marcus Nyman, senior research fellow at IPPR, said the farming industry played a 'critical role' in tackling the climate crisis.

"But the more we ask UK farmers to deliver, the more we should be supporting them along the way," he added.

“Making the best use of our land – whether for growing food, capturing carbon, restoring habitats – can’t be done without putting farming communities at the heart of our plans.”

Source: Farming UK