Shropshire Star

The top climate challenges for UK dairy farmers

Dairy farmers need to prepare for the challenges of a changing climate and work to mitigate the risk to production and food security.

Hayley Campbell-Gibbons

That was the view of Hayley Campbell-Gibbons, Head of Sustainability at Agri Business Kite Consulting.

“For a long time, agriculture has been under the microscope regarding its contribution towards climate change but it’s time to expand the conversation to include an understanding of the wider risks climate change poses to food production,” said Hayley Campbell-Gibbons.

“When we asked dairy farmers if climate change impacts presented a cost to them, 95 per cent answered yes. But, worryingly, less than 50 per cent have a plan in place to prepare for it. Farmers need to think about what actions and investment they need to make to help protect their business.”

Kite Consulting and AB Agri clients were asked how their businesses were being affected by a changing climate.

Drought was at the top of the list of the most challenging impacts, with 80 per cent of farmers responding saying they were impacted. High temperatures (60 per cent) and flash flooding (37 per cent) were also high on the impact list.

The impact of these weather conditions is widespread, with over 70 per cent of farmers experiencing feed shortages, 66 per cent noting heat stress in their herds and over 50 per cent reporting difficulty complying with slurry storage and spreading legislation.

“Anticipating how a changing climate might impact a dairy farm business and, crucially, knowing what can be done to manage these challenges, will be fundamental to producing milk successfully in the future,” added Hayley.

“For farmers, it will be increasingly important that they prepare their businesses for more extremes in temperature, more intense and damaging storms and heightened flood risks.

“But there is an obligation that goes beyond the farm gate. The whole dairy industry needs to consider, asses and fund mitigation of the climate impact and ultimately secure milk production and food security.”

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