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Agriculture (Sustainability/Climate Change)

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 3rd May 2006.

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Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Conservative, Buckingham

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken by her Department to work with farmers to reduce the impact of climate change on British agriculture.

Photo of Elliot Morley Elliot Morley Minister of State (Climate Change and Environment), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

On 7 February 2005 Defra held a seminar to help raise awareness in the stakeholder community, and identify potential practical adaptation strategies within UK agriculture to tackle the impacts of climate change. The outcomes from this event were fed into the first ever Joint Informal Council on Environment and Agriculture, held in September 2005 under the UK presidency of the EU. The joint meeting focused on the significant challenges and opportunities that climate change presents to European agriculture.

A vital element of Defra policy on agriculture and climate change is to raise awareness within the industry of the issues and possible actions to be taken. The Rural Climate Change Forum has been established to provide a high level forum for dialogue with Government, and authoritative advice and leadership to rural stakeholders.

The new UK Climate Change Programme, published on 28 March 2006 signals a step change in the recognition we are giving to the agriculture sector in addressing climate change. The new programme has assessed the role of the agriculture and forestry sector in addressing climate change and seeks to raise awareness of the issues across the sector and develop measures to allow it to play a full part in tackling climate change.

The UK National Adaptation Policy Framework is currently being developed. It will help to provide a more strategic approach to adaptation, identifying key risks and opportunities common across a number of policy areas and to coordinate approaches where possible. The first phase of the framework will be structured on a sectoral basis, and these sectors will include Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry as well as water resources, biodiversity and nature conservation. As the framework develops it will also reflect cross-cutting issues.

We are also committed to continuing to develop a robust evidence base in order to be able to support policy development and inform land managers of the best technologies and information available to help them adapt to climate change.

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