Devon County Council opens debate on farming and climate change

DEVON County Council will host an interactive discussion about the impact of modern farming on our climate.

DEVON County Council will host an interactive discussion about the impact of modern farming on our climate.

The jury-style event will be held on Wednesday, March 19, and brings together experts from the county's agricultural, scientific and environmental community. It will consider if Devon's agricultural community is ready to face the challenges of improving climate change. The question being asked is: "Is Devon's farming fit for purpose in the era of climate change?"

Professor Michael Winter, Director of the Centre for Rural Policy Research, explained: "The UK agricultural sector currently makes a relatively large contribution to the total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions each year, largely methane and nitrous oxide. However, it is also in a near unique position to address this issue, as it has the ability to capture, store and maintain carbon and take other actions to reduce GHG emissions."

Against this background, Devon County Council and Devon Rural Network commissioned the Centre for Rural Policy Research at the University of Exeter to consider whether Devon's farming practices are fit for purpose and assess its ability to make the necessary efficiency changes. The debate is one of the first steps for all those involved to raise and discuss the key issues.

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The event, web-cast live, will see a range of experts present evidence about the positive and negative impact of farming on today's climate to a hand-picked jury. These include representatives from the National Farmers' Union (NFU), Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER) and Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT).

Councillor Brian Greenslade, Leader of Devon County Council, said: "We would encourage any organisation with an interest in this important topic to get in touch and take part. The debate is expected to be lively with the 'Jury' cross examining the witnesses, live audience questions and electronic voting on key arguments. The panel will then retire in the afternoon to deliberate their verdict. They will assess the current efficiency of Devon agriculture and make recommendations for the council and partners on working with the sector to decide upon any necessary actions for the future."

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The Jury will be led by John Varley, Estates Director of Clinton Devon Estates, with other members including Mary Talbot Rosevear, Secretary of the Small Farms Association; Philip Wagstaff, Churches Together in Devon; Phil Le Grice, Duchy College; Ian Mercer, South West Forest and DRN Chair; Phil Norrey, Chief Executive Devon County Council; and Mary Quicke, Quicke's Cheeses.

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