Government targets to cut Britain’s CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 could strangle the British farming industry, according to the NFU.

Jonathan Scurlock, the NFU’s chief renewables adviser said: “Climate change targets could end farming as we know it”.

Ed Miliband, the secretary of state for the new Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), convinced parliament (16 October) to support his target of reducing Britain’s CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050.

He responded to a scientific study that said the former target, a 60% reduction by 2050, wasn’t enough to prevent climate change.

But Mr Scurlock warned that the agriculture sector will struggle to meet these targets – due to methane emissions from cows and nitrous-oxide emissions from nitrogen pesticides.

“Farming needs concessions on these targets if it is to survive – for instance, government policy could balance the benefits from renewable energy provided by farmers from anaerobic digesters and wind turbines,” he said.

“We won’t know the full nature of these targets until a report is released in early December,” he said. “But we can’t allow our countryside to become a national park.”