'Farmers can help carbon targets'

Farmers and land managers are not the villains of climate change but could become the heroes of the drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, members of the the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association's were told today.

Farmers and land managers are not the villains of climate change but could become the heroes of the drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, members of the the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association's were told today.

Henry Cator, the association chairman, said that the farming industry could play a key role in the ambitious target to cut carbon emissions in Britain by 60pc by 2050.

“Why then is it, therefore, that agriculture is so swiftly portrayed as the villain of the piece?” he asked.

“We will reduce carbon emissions through the production of bioethanol, biodiesel, biomass and even bio-gas - through the aneorbic digestion of animal and food wastes.

“I can see farming getting in line for extra taxes from the climate change debate when in fact the very opposite is true.”

Speaking at Easton College, Mr Cator criticised the “rank incompetence of government” in the wake of delayed payments to farmers and the Rural Payments Agency debacle.

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“We're facing huge threats of uncertainty from bovine tuberculosis and avian influenza, it is hard to see that it is good stewardship of the country's resources to carry on as we are,” added Mr Cator.

Meanwhile, the retiring president, Anthony Duckworth-Chad, of East Rudham, spoke of the pleasure he had derived from his term in office.

“I will always treasure the honour of being your president,” he said.

“I never expected it. I certainly didn't deserve it but my goodness me, I did love it.”

Mr Cator proposed Sir Nichol Bacon, of the Raveningham estate, near Beccles, as president of the RNAA for the coming year.

Two retiring trustees, Peter Rout and David Papworth, who have served since the formation of the board, were thanked. They have been replaced by Louis Baugh and Stephen Howlett.

The Sir Timothy Colman prize for an outstanding contribution to food, farming and countryside was made to David Papworth, of Tuttington, near North Walsham.