Clean Air Strategy: NFU warns farmers will need financial support

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has warned its members will need ‘considerable financial support’ to make some of the changes outlined in the Government’s Clean Air Strategy.

Agriculture featured prominently in the much-delayed document, which was finally published yesterday (14 January).

One of the key policy announcements focussed on ammonia emissions, with farming accounting for 88% of all UK ammonia emissions.

Ammonia is emitted during storage, land spreading and deposition of manures and slurries, and from the application of inorganic fertilisers, and the strategy included a range of measures aimed at improving farming practices.

To reduce ammonia emissions, there will be new regulations that will require farmers to use low emission farming techniques as well as regulations that will minimise pollution from fertiliser use, including low emissions techniques for spreading slurries and digestate on land such as by injection.

There will also be new measures to improve ensuring that levels of protein in livestock diets are well matched to nutritional needs.

The Deputy President of the NFU, Guy Smith said investment in areas such as slurry storage and low-emission spreading equipment is going to be key if the Clean Air Strategy is to be successful.

‘Farmers will need considerable financial support to make these important changes and it is encouraging that government will provide farmers with the support they need,’ said Mr Smith.

‘However, more time must be allocated to enable farmers to make these changes as the proposed deadlines could put financial strain on businesses.

‘The NFU is also concerned about plans to extend permitting to dairy farms and what the Government describes as “intensive” beef farms. More detail is needed as to how these ‘intensive’ farms would be defined and how the changes would not restrict growth and raise production costs, which we believe would put the UK beef and dairy sectors at a competitive disadvantage to the rest of the world,’ added the NFU Deputy President.

‘We urge the Government to focus on more sustainable ways for farm businesses to reduce their impact on air quality, such as improved advice and environmental land management schemes designed to mitigate ammonia emissions. The NFU will continue to work with government to develop their proposals,’ he added.