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Save the Earth and keep your tanks full; Biofuel puts farmers in driving seat against global warming.

Byline: By ANDREW FORGRAVE

FARMERS say they can help the Government tackle global warming as well as staving off the threat of future fuel crises.

Swathes of agricultural land can become the oil wells of the future by growing biomass for power stations and biofuel for motorists.

Meanwhile upland areas of Wales and Scotland can be managed as huge carbon stores which will help slow the build-up of greenhouse gases, thought to be the cause of global warming.

Recent catastrophic weather in places like New Orleans showed the world is changing - but farming and horticulture can help reverse this trend, said the National Farmers Union.

It is calling for a radical change in farming's relationship with government, society and the environment - starting with the appointment of a Government renewable energy supremo.

NFU deputy president Peter Kendall said: "Farming can develop renewable fuels and produce local food to assured standards.

"Why import food and renewable fuel when we can produce them here? What we need is the infrastructure and the commitment to deliver this win-win option."

Agriculture can provide the engine for a move from a carbon to a carbohydrate based society, believes the NFU. It can do this through substituting fossil fuels, improving energy efficiency and being carbon neutral - particularly important as oil prices grow more unstable. The NFU has now published a list of suggestions for government.

It wants more government backing for biofuels, which offer some 60% carbon dioxide saving on their fossil fuel equivalents.

As fossil fuel costs rise, biofuels are becoming more affordable and the NFU is calling for a Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation to be adopted to promote their growth.

The union believes locally-based combined heat-and-power plants should be developed based on UK-grown - not imported - biomass.

"We cannot see the sense in increasing carbon emissions by transporting raw material when it can be delivered locally and sustainably," said the NFU report.

In the same way the government should encourage a reduction in food miles - the distance travelled by food from farmgate to consumer. A recent Defra study found food miles cost pounds 9bn per year.

Speaking after the recent combined meeting of the EU Agriculture and Environment Councils, which discussed climate change and farming, UK environment secretary Margaret Beckett said agriculture was responsible for 7% of the UK's emissions.

The NFU said it has already set energy reduction targets which had been exceeded by the pig, poultry meat and egg industries. Methane emissions could also be reduced by feed changes in livestock farming, such as improving the digestibility of forage THE Prince of Wales got it right when he dreamed of a countryside producing high value, organic food, according to a new report by the Globalisation Institute, a free trade think-tank.

It says the Common Agricultural Policy has been an environmental disaster, creating pollution with no economic benefit, and its abolition should be twinned with a one-off payment to farmers to help them adapt. Farming would continue, but only producing largely high-priced nonintensive produce, says the report

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Upland areas of North Wales could make a major contribution to tackling global warming by being used as huge 'carbon stores' to slow the build-up of greenhouse gases; Biofuel advocates believe it could end oil price shocks and empty filling stations
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 15, 2005
Words:545
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