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Water Summit Will Hear Of Farmers Crucial Role

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The NFU and the Environment Agency are to host a joint water summit to discuss the Agencys Water Resources strategy with invited industry stakeholders.

The strategy – Water for people and the environment – recommends a series of actions and measures to ensure that all parts of society have continued access to water against a backdrop of predicted challenges including climate change, more housing and a higher UK population.  The strategys actions include:

  • Promoting efficiency measures and small-scale storage reservoirs for agriculture;
  • Encouraging the establishment of water abstraction groups;
  • Considering the future use of catchment sensitive farming initiatives to protect water quality and water resources
  • Increase in investment in vital new science-based research and innovation; and
  • Developing new technologies for efficient water use and a better understanding of how changes in society and catchment affect water resources.

NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond said: This strategy highlights the critical role water plays in agriculture and horticulture and how this impacts on the production of the nations food, both now and in the future.  It also highlights the importance of working with, and understanding, the needs of farm businesses and we welcome the opportunity to debate a number of on-going and future issues with the Environment Agency, industry stakeholders, farmers and growers.

Water is essential for almost everything that farmers and growers do; from irrigating crops to watering livestock, and water use for irrigation contributes significantly to the economy in many parts of the country. As farmers we know that we must demonstrate responsible use of the nations water supply and support from the Environment Agency for appropriate winter water storage and abstractor group initiatives plays a critical role in helping us manage these resources.

The droughts and increased flooding we have been experiencing most recently in Cumbria – clearly demonstrate that water resources, and how we manage them, are becoming increasingly important for everyone. With climate change still top of the agenda we have to ensure we can adapt to the challenges that it will bring and hope that many of the measures outlined in this strategy will help to increase the resilience of the agriculture industry.

Ian Barker, the Environment Agencys Head of Water, said: Water is essential for life and vital to our economy, particularly the agricultural sector. Climate change and population growth mean there may not be enough water in England and Wales in the future for people and the environment unless we start planning and acting now. The Environment Agency is working closely with the farming community. Todays meeting will help identify practical and economical ways to reduce the threats to water resources across England and Wales.

  1. The Environment Agencys Water Resources Strategy Water for people and the environment was launched in March 2009.
  2. Both a summary of the strategy, and a briefing note on how it relates to agriculture have also been produced.
  3. The meeting is being held on Thursday December 10 in Reading.

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