Farming at the Forefront of Climate Change

Article excerpt

Byline: By Elin Jones

We must all take action now to tackle climate change and its effects, says Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones

CLIMATE change is one of the biggest challenges we face. It is a global challenge, and each one of us has a crucial role to play to minimise its effects.

Those living in rural communities, close to the land and relying on the cycles of nature for their livelihood, are likely to see the effects sooner than others. As well as seeing and dealing with the effects of climate change, rural Wales and the farming industry will also have a crucial role in facing the challenges presented.

The debate about the existence of climate change is over. Its existence is without question and many of those in the countryside can see for themselves the changes that are happening throughout the seasons of the year.

We have recently seen the impact climate change can have on our industry with the arrival of bluetongue in England. This disease, which was first seen in South Africa, has steadily moved north. As a vector-borne disease, climate change is thought to be one of the main reasons why this disease has moved the way it has. While we have plans in place to deal with bluetongue it is an example of the impact a change in our climate can have.

While we must prepare for the effects of unavoidable climate change which is a result of damage which has already been done, there is still time to make a difference and minimise the effects. But we must all take action now.

Rural Wales is well placed to reduce the impact of climate change. How we produce food and how we all shop and eat can have an impact on climate change. Furthermore, research has shown a high number of consumers are very concerned about this. Buying local produce makes a difference. It supports Wales, Welsh farming and our rural communities as well as cutting food miles.

The One Wales document, which outlines our programme for government, has a commitment to set in motion a major initiative on local food procurement. This will have many benefits, not only for the environment. It will also boost the prosperity of rural areas which produce much of our local food. We need also to be able to take advantage of the opportunities a changing climate presents in moving our farming production into new areas, such as horticulture.

The reduction of carbon emissions in the farming industry must be addressed. The recent independent report Sustainable Farming and Environment: Action Towards 2020 highlighted the importance of addressing climate change. It recommended the farming industry works to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020. …