Climate change has always been with us, whether as a result of changes in the Earth’s rotation and orbit, geological events or the impacts of species. However, there is scientific consensus that the changes over recent centuries made by man have created a major impact in a relatively short time span.

Urgent action is essential to reduce our impact on climate if we are to avoid cataclysmic effects - not least for farming.

Like many industries, agriculture is rising to the challenge by reducing its own contributions to climate change, whilst ensuring that ecosystems which rely on farming are not undermined, and that food continues to be produced in the UK rather than production being displaced to countries with larger environmental and carbon footprints.

The FUW believes agriculture has been unfairly represented in the media when it comes to climate change, with many articles calling for a big reduction in livestock numbers and meat consumption.

But these often fail to place agriculture’s contribution to climate change in context compared with other industries, using emission figures for production systems not used in the UK, and fail to take into account the environmental benefits of Welsh beef and sheep production, as well as the positive impact farming has on the wider economy and communities.

Indeed, the carbon footprint of farming is around 65 times lower per hectare than all other sources of Welsh greenhouse gasses, and the official figures for agriculture do not include the carbon we capture annually in our soils, woodlands and hedgerows, or save through the thousands of turbines and solar panels on farms across Wales.

Sadly, anti-farming stories are often driven not by a concern about climate change, but by an anti-livestock farming or meat-eating agenda.

Reducing livestock numbers has already had a disastrous impact on upland species, and misguided pressures to reduce numbers further would have a disastrous impact not only on the industry but within our wider rural society.

In the worst case scenario policies would merely cripple our own industries while people continue to consume products from countries which have lower standards.

Future policy in Wales need to take into account the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 which seeks to improve the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales, rather than focusing on naive ‘quick-fix’ actions to tackle climate change which undermine an industry which is already taking action on many levels.

Farmers are heavily dependent on climate and obviously aware of and concerned over predicted changes which could have a major impact on both food production and the environment.

Reducing the impact of climate change has been a priority for the World, UK and Wales for many years, as can be seen by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the UK Climate Change Act 2008 as well as other UK and Wales specific targets, all of which have led to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in many areas.

In 2016, the agricultural sector contributed 10 per cent of total UK emissions, or 46.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) a 16 per cent decrease since the 55.3 MtCO2e produced in 1990.

Since 1990 there has been a 16 per cent reduction in GHG emissions from the UK agricultural sector. The story is similar for Wales with the agricultural sector contributing 5.7 MtCO₂e in 2016, a 12 per cent decrease from the 6.5 MtCO₂e emitted in 1990.

Our farmers have done and are doing some really good work to mitigate the effects of Greenhouse Gasses and climate change, and the FUW continues to highlight to politicians and the general public the positive impact that agriculture can have on tackling climate change, preserving and protecting the environment and ensuring a prosperous wider society.