Soaring costs spark UK Dairy Roadmap net zero delay: ‘Reducing our carbon footprint might be falling down the agenda for many farmers’

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

UK Dairy Roadmap offers six month extension on carbon audit deadline / Pic: iStock-Brekbit
UK Dairy Roadmap offers six month extension on carbon audit deadline / Pic: iStock-Brekbit

Related tags Uk dairy farmers Net zero

The UK Dairy Roadmap has issued an extension to its target on carbon auditing - an important early step in its 2050 net zero plans - citing increasing pressure on farmers and ‘soaring’ production costs.

The UK Dairy Roadmap initiative – which is backed by Dairy UK, the National Farmers Union, and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board – sets a minimum standard for improved environmental standards across the entire UK dairy industry. Last November, it committed UK dairy producers to a range of evidence led targets and detailed a delivery program​. 

Specifically, its recently launched climate ambition paper set out plans to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and ‘maintain positive actions’ that reduce climate warming caused by methane and nitrous oxides.

However, the UK Dairy Roadmap was forced to acknowledge that climate action could be forced to take a backseat in the current climate as farmers grapple with rising production costs.

In a statement released last week, the Roadmap noted that spiking on-farm expenses ‘can make it difficult to think about anything other than overheads’.

“Reducing our carbon footprint might, understandably, be falling down the agenda for many farmers,”​ the body conceded. 

In this context, the Dairy Roadmap said it will extend the target for farmers to have completed a carbon audit from December 2022 to June 2023.

Efficiency for resilience and sustainability

While the Dairy Roadmap has provided an extension for carbon auditing, it has not backed away from its 2050 net zero vision.

“We’re very conscious of the external pressures our members are facing at the moment,”​ said Emma Gregson, Environment Manager at Dairy UK. However, Gregson stressed that a carbon audit could do more than help progress the journey to reduce dairy emissions – it can also deliver efficiency gains.

“We would continue to urge all farmers to consider conducting a carbon audit on their farm as soon as possible. Not only will this help with our journey as an industry towards Net Zero, but is so important in helping improve efficiencies within the business. At a time of rising prices and cost of production, this can be invaluable for helping to protect and improve the bottom line.”

Nic Parsons, AHDB’s Head of Dairy Development agreed. “The two go hand in hand. Efficiency is key to both resilience and sustainability. It is important to measure so that we can identify improvements and plan for the future. Increasing efficiency and reducing environmental impact is a win-win for all farmers.”

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