Accolade for Yorkshire farmers'

YORKSHIRE farmers have been named as the most environmentally friendly in the country after new research showed more than half were taking action to reduce climate change.

A new survey showed that 56 per cent of producers in the region said they were altering their methods to help combat global warming while nationwide results showed that one in four farmers have noticed increased interest from customers in their environmental performance over the past year.

The study is published by Farming Futures and shows that 53 per cent of those surveyed recognise that addressing climate change offers potential business opportunities – a significant rise on last year – and that the number of farmers producing their own energy has doubled.

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The news comes at a time when the region's farmers are currently engaging in the Campaign for the Farmed Environment – a scheme designed to promote ecology on Yorkshire agricultural land.

Almost half of farmers said they were confident that the industry's target of an 11 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 can be met. A further 47 per cent said they were improving energy efficiency on their farm.

Madeleine Lewis, Farming Futures strategic adviser, says: "The last year has brought a lot of developments in the agricultural sector and climate change is now firmly on the agenda.

"Government targets around greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy and food security are challenging us to rethink the way we farm.

"These issues aren't going to go away – by engaging with them and making changes, you can take advantage of the opportunities and manage the risks."

The new Farming Futures website and blog has been designed as a one-stop-shop to help farmers discover and share what actions they can take on their farm that will reduce their environmental impact. Based at www.farmingfutures.org.uk, it contains contributions from shadow Defra Minister Nick Herbert and Sir Don Curry, formerly the Government's chief farming adviser.

It also highlights the example of John Baarda, a farming company based at Brough in East Yorkshire, which is recycling the carbon dioxide and steam to heat from fertiliser production help grow crops. The firm said its tomato growth had been boosted significantly by increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide fed to the plants.

Ms Lewis said: "Like every sector of the economy, farming has its role to play in the shift to a low carbon economy, but the good news is that a lot of the things farmers can do are good for their bottom line too."