Farmers told to plan now to benefit from climate change

Farmers and landowners must start planning now if they want to benefit financially from climate change.

People should account for climate change in their long-term business outlook or run the risk of making the wrong decisions, according to Andrew Blanch, managing director of agricultural engineering firm Alvan Blanch.

Climate change could have a dramatic effect on UK agriculture, with arable farmers able to grow a range of new crops like hemp and grain maize, Mr Blanch said.

However, current grain-drying and storage systems might not be able to cope, he added.

“The industry is only just realising flexible systems are the order of the day. The average age of an on-farm grain drier, for example, is 25 years. Installed today it will be drying crops long after climate change starts to affect agriculture.” 

Mr Blanch echoed the words of Ian Kenny, head of agricultural policy at Natwest.

Speaking at the Cheshire Farming Conference last month, Mr Kenny said: “You are in the driving seat, don’t wait for the Government to tell you what to do because that sounds like you’re going to do it because there’s a subsidy.

“Bio-gas, bio-fuel, biomass, if it’s wanted you can produce it.”

However, Mr Kenny said all new ventures had to be commercially driven. “The first thing you must do is work out your marketplace and it must be done from a sound business base in the first place.”