The NFU has called for urgent action on the issue of climate change, following the publication of a new study on the effects of climate change on British agriculture.

The study identifies a number of areas of concern and outlines ways in which British farmers can reduce the negative impacts of their operations.

It also details large-scale initiatives where farmers can play a key role in significantly reducing national greenhouse gas emissions.

Union president Tim Bennett called for dedicated research into how farming can adapt to cope with climate change.

He also urged government to appoint a dedicated, cross-departmental climate change minister to coordinate the fight against global warming.

The utilisation of market mechanisms like renewable energy obligations and carbon trading systems to help farmers and growers substitute renewable energy sources for fossil fuels and reduce their carbon footprint were also needed, he added.

Mr Bennett said: “It is clear from this document that urgent action is needed.

“It confirms that even in the short-term the impact of climate change on farming and growing will be profound.

“But there are holes in our knowledge that need to be filled.”

Mr Bennett said British farmers, like everyone, have a vested interest in reducing the impact of climate change.

“Global warming will present a number of significant challenges to the industry with new diseases and pests to combat and increased competition for vital resources like water.

“Climactic volatility across the globe will make our role as food producers increasingly important and securing a domestic supply of high quality food will become paramount.

“There is much the farming industry can do to help meet these challenges but much rests on our ability to adapt to the changes and grasp the opportunities.

“This issue requires direction and leadership across all spectrums of society.

“We are willing to provide that leadership on behalf of farmers and growers but we cannot do it alone. It is time this issue was approached in a coordinated fashion.”