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Stackyard News Nov 09

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    Making Beef and Sheep Farming Fit for the Future

Beef and sheep farmers are invited to a free workshop in Oxfordshire to explore the future of the industry, and how it can maximise the opportunities and reduce the risks of climate change.


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Meat and dairy products have hit the headlines recently because of their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, with Lord Stern last week saying that eating "less meat is better for the planet".

But livestock farmers are part of the solution to climate change and global food insecurity and are already taking steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and their impact on the environment.

EBLEX's beef and sheep environmental roadmap, to be launched later this month, will support the industry as it moves to do more. Livestock farming is very important to the UK, employing 188,000 people and contributing £2.3 billion to the economy.

With presentations from leading beef and sheep experts and a major UK retailer, this workshop will look at how farmers can maintain support from consumers for meat and dairy farming in a 'carbon-savvy' world.

Organised by Farming Futures and EBLEX, the event will be held at FAI Farms Ltd. in Wytham, just outside Oxford. A morning of presentations will explore the importance of the industry and the wider food supply chain in combating climate change and the work of FAI Farms in understanding how livestock can have a positive effect on the environment and how production systems might be developed in the future to reduce the effects of global warming.

After a complimentary lunch, workshops will discuss plant breeding and feeding for reduced emissions, as well as a farm tour and a discussion with local vets on the impact of climate change on livestock disease.

The event will also be a great opportunity to network with other farmers in the industry and share knowledge.

In February 2009 half of all farmers surveyed in England as part of the Farming Futures project said they were already affected by climate change and more than 60% expect to be affected in the next ten years.

Farming Futures provides inspiration and information for farmers, land managers and advisors via fact sheets on every farming sector and topical issues such as anaerobic digestion, water and biomass.

Madeleine Lewis, Farming Futures project manager said: "We're at a crucial time for beef and sheep farmers in this country. It's now understood that meat and dairy contribute relatively high greenhouse gas emissions compared to other foodstuffs. But there are ways that UK farmers can reduce those emissions whilst at the same time producing top quality sustainable products and maximising returns."

"In a survey we conducted in February 2009, we found that 51.2% of beef farmers and 31% of sheep farmers are taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their farm. The challenge is to take advantage of the opportunities that climate change presents, and this event will showcase these. "

Farming Futures is an industry-led collaborative project between the NFU, CLA, AIC, AHRF, Forum for the Future and Defra to communicate practical action on climate change.

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