The chief executive of farming education charity LEAF has called for the farming industry to step up and demonstrate its role in combatting climate change.

Caroline Drummond MBE urged farmers to demonstrate the value they bring to the environment, people and the planet following this year's Oxford Farming Conference.

“The rise of extreme global weather events, seen recently with wildfires in Australia, has really shone a spotlight on the urgency of our climate crisis," Drummond said.

"The UK is certainly not exempt from the direct and devastating impact of these events on our farming, our land, our environment and food supplies, as we saw last year with extensive areas of the UK subject to severe flooding.

The farming industry has always been a ‘can do’ sector; practical, adaptable and resilient. Now is the time for all of us in the rural sector to step up to demonstrate the range of public goods and services it delivers.

"There is no doubt that we face challenging times, both climatically and politically.

"Yet we are also at the start of an exciting new era. Globally, farmers have the opportunity to be part of the solution in mitigating and managing climate change and on-going human and planetary health issues."

Time to step up

Drummond explained that farmers were "absolutely critical" to achieving net-zero carbon emissions in the UK while delivering public goods and ensuring a secure food supply alongside high animal welfare and enhanced biodiversity.

"Now is the time for us to step up and drive forward real change," she said.

“The UK farming sector is a global leader in the production of safe, nutritious food with some of the highest animal welfare and environmental standards in the world.

Our industry is pushing forward the innovations and technology to tackle issues around carbon sequestration, supporting and enhancing biodiversity and improving public access.

“Indeed, LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management systems approach provides a framework for farmers to manage, adapt, develop and drive performance and improvement towards more sustainable farming. In essence, it supports farmers in managing more effectively those areas they can control.

"Over the coming year, LEAF will be setting out its commitment to supporting farmers in practical ways as we develop our new strategy which we will launch ahead of our 30th anniversary in 2021.

“As we look to build more robust, regenerative farming approaches, based on sound science and practical application, there are great opportunities for farmers to be part of the solution.”