CFFG’s Conference on Climate Change – March 2020

A full house of farmers, food producers, industry advisors and policy makers spent a rewarding day in conference with climate change experts looking at how severe weather events might affect the land, food production and supply chains and how industry can work towards reducing carbon emissions to net zero.

The first lesson absorbed by all was that our actions have to be science led and considered. That means assembling and understanding baseline data for each farm, to the same definitions and measurement standards. These definitions and standards are subject to change as our understanding of soil management and carbon chemistry develop.

Previous measurement of livestock methane emissions, for example, has been recently turned on its head by science and indicating the impact is less than half of what it was thought to be on greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The case studies of two Cornish farms, a beef and sheep farm and an all-grass dairy farm, were looked at with input from the two farmers, to illustrate the procedure for collating the necessary data.

Crop and soil management are crucial to minimum carbon release. Buying local, seasonal food is of great importance if we are to avoid creating climate change conditions elsewhere on the planet. We also need to be aware that well-managed pasture and hedgerows can be just as much a sequester of carbon as trees.

We need to be alive to the way in which our produce is transported from the farm gate into the food supply chain: all the good done on the land can be quickly destroyed in the way in which produce is distributed and processed.

A great starting point for many of us and thanks particularly to the lead speakers: Edwina Hannaford (Cornwall Council), Caroline Drummond (LEAF), Emma Piercy (Food & Drink Federation), Becky Willson (Duchy College), Ceris Jones and Paul Cottington (NFU).

The Expert Guest Speakers were:

Caroline Drummond MBE FRAgS CEO of LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), past Director Rothamstead Research Institute, and IGER (Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research).

Dr Ceris Jones NFU Climate Change adviser. Ceris will speak about, livestock, min till and the wider climate change mitigation opportunities available through agriculture.

Edwina Hannaford Cabinet Member at Cornwall Council responsible for Climate Change policy. Conference also ties in with the launch of public consultation on Cornwall’s Climate Change Development Plan Document.

Emma Piercy Food and Drink Federation. Head of Climate Change and Energy Policy. Emma will include initial findings on research into decarbonisation of heat in the food sector.

Becky Willson Resource Management specialist at Duchy College and project officer for Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit.