Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border and member of the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee and Conservative Environment Network’s Parliamentary Caucus joined NFU President Minette Batters, Richard Graham MP and Iceland MD Richard Walker for a virtual fringe event at Conservative Party Conference titled ‘Net-zero, farming and trade: feeding the nation and protecting the planet.’ The event was organised by the Conservative Environment Network and centred around the role that agriculture can play in delivering on the UK’s commitment to carbon net-zero by 2050.
During the event Dr Hudson expressed his support for farmers and land-owners across Penrith and The Border, highlighting how they can help deliver on the Government’s net-zero targets.
Speaking after the event Dr Hudson said: “I was delighted to be invited to speak at this event and be able to make the case for how Cumbria can be a champion for reducing carbon emissions and set an example for the wider UK. The introduction of Environmental Land Management (ELM) schemes will play a key role in helping to make farming more sustainable.”
Under the ELM schemes, farmers will be paid for work that promotes animal health and welfare and enhances the environment, such as tree or hedge planting and river management to mitigate flooding, or creating or restoring habitats for wildlife.
The panel also discussed the need for local food security and sustainability which acts as a benefit for local farmers who are selling their produce and can play a role in reducing carbon emissions via shortening the distances that are travelled during transportation. In addition, the panel covered the theme of upholding animal welfare and food production standards in international trade deals.
Commenting, Neil added “One of the key take home messages from the Covid-19 pandemic is the need for local food security. The British public are acutely aware of the importance of food supply as many saw shortages in their local shops and supermarkets. It is therefore a crucial time to encourage people to buy local to reinforce local food supply chains and support farmers across Cumbria. This discussion also highlighted the role we can play by showing the world that we value high animal health and welfare and these values should inform our trade negotiations with international partners.”
Dr Hudson also wanted to identify the importance of agricultural education. After the event he said “If agriculture is going to play a significant role in reducing the UK’s carbon output over the next 30 years and beyond then it is vital that high quality agricultural education is maintained to support the next generation of farmers. Newton Rigg College in my constituency is one such institution offering courses in agriculture, animal management, forestry, horticulture and agricultural engineering. The College also serves as a producer of top-level graduates, many of whom will go on to work in the agricultural sector. This is one of the many reasons that I triggered the Government-led review to try and save the College after the current host institution announced it was withdrawing.”