Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has welcomed the "positive action already underway" within the farming community to reduce emissions and tackle climate change, but says that "more can be done".

The minister was visiting the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) stand at the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.

Minister Poots said: “UFU’s presence in Glasgow shows their commitment to addressing the issues surrounding climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"Whilst COP26 has a global focus, we all must play our part. Our agri-food sector is vitally important, not just to the farming community, but to everyone in Northern Ireland, sustaining over 100,000 jobs and contributing approximately £1.7 billion to our economy per annum.

"As DAERA Minister, it is my focus to ensure that we have a sustainable agri-food sector; which will contribute to a clean, healthy environment that benefits people, nature and the economy.”

Many opportunities

The minister said that tackling climate change is a "key priority" for his department.

"At this time, agriculture is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in Northern Ireland and whilst this presents many challenges, I believe it also presents many opportunities.

I recently published the Future Agricultural Policy Framework Portfolio for Northern Ireland which is set around four key outcomes – increased productivity, environmental sustainability, improved resilience and a responsive supply chain.

"Higher productivity growth in our agri-industry, through science and innovation, must be achieved in a way that is compatible with improving environmental sustainability.

"With this in mind, I also recently announced the launch of a new Soil Nutrient Health Scheme for Northern Ireland. This innovative soil sampling and carbon analysis scheme will be available to all farmers and is aimed at helping them farm more sustainably.”

'Committed' to playing its part in reducing emissions

Minister Poots concluded: “In the Future Agricultural Policy Framework Portfolio for Northern Ireland, I stated that ‘business as usual for many farms will not be an option’.

"As we look to the future, I want to ensure that farmers are supported and equipped with the right tools to deliver both food and environmental outcomes in a sustainable way.

We have already seen the positive work that the agri-industry are doing, many have already invested in green technology and embraced environmentally-friending farming practices.

"I am therefore confident that the sector is committed to playing its part in reducing emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change. The next decade will be vital, but working together there is still time to make a difference.”