Agriculture: Carbon Emissions

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered at on 23 October 2023.

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Photo of Duncan Baker Duncan Baker Conservative, North Norfolk

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will introduce a comprehensive decarbonisation strategy for the agriculture sector which helps to support farmers and their supply chain partners to (a) restore nature, (b) cut greenhouse gas emissions and (c) (i) maintain and (ii) enhance food production.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Net Zero is a priority for the Government. The Net Zero Strategy, Net Zero Growth Plan, and Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 set out our commitments to reduce emissions from agriculture. Our farming policy aims to support farmers to protect nature and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, alongside their core role as food producers. Food production is the primary purpose of farming and always will be, and we know that changes to farming practice will be required to limit emissions while maintaining profitability and increasing productivity.

To achieve our greenhouse gas emissions targets, we are taking a range of measures to support farmers. This includes Environmental Land Management (ELM). Good land management can help increase carbon storage and reduce emissions in agriculture, including integrating cover crops and nitrogen-fixing break crops in rotations. We are paying for a range of actions through farming schemes such as Sustainable Farming Incentive to support farm decarbonisation and Countryside Stewardship and Landscape Recovery to store more carbon in the landscape. At the same time, these schemes invest in the foundations of food security: healthy soil, abundant pollinators and clean water. The schemes will help farmers deliver environmental outcomes on the land they manage while helping their businesses become more productive and sustainable.

We will also pay farmers for improvements to animal health and welfare, as improvements in animal health in turn can support lower emissions and improve productivity. We will also support market-led approaches such as improved productivity and use of precision techniques.

That is not all: the Government recognises wide-spread application of innovation, science and technology can be transformational. That is why we are implementing these through innovation and productivity schemes such as the £270 million Farming Innovation Programme and the Farming Investment Fund. We are also exploring innovations at different stages of development including methane inhibiting feed additives for livestock and improving fuel and energy efficiency on farms.

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