COP26 Special Reports: Calls for more support for farmers being environmentally friendly

As Glasgow prepares for world leaders to discuss climate change at the COP26 summit in November, ITV Border will be looking at how the environmental crisis impacts our region and some of the measures already being taken.

In the second of our special reports, our Climate Correspondent Hannah Mcnulty looks at some of the measures farmers are already taking to become more environmentally friendly, and the support that they say they need to do more in future.

A Ullswater farm relies solely on sunshine, water and fresh pastures for the upkeep of their cattle.

Cows at Gowbarrow Hall Farm munch only on fresh grass, and not any imported food sources.

Farmer Sam Beaumont said: "We're pasture-fed certified and it's the only guarantee that we're not using any grain to fatten our animals. When people say they're grass-fed it might be 51% grass and 49% soya beans from South America."The reason we changed is because of that and we felt the climate is changing and wehave a biodiversity crisis and we are losing wildlife and as farmers responsible for land management we need to be aligning our business to help mitigate climate change, help biodiversity and restoring soil health so these are the three things we are focusing on."

Brexit means for the first time the Government is in charge of agricultural policy.

It's getting rid of the current payments to farmers and introducing the Environmental Land Management Scheme where farmers are rewarded for delivering more biodiversity and better carbon storage.

There are some concerns about a lack of information, and fears farmers will be left out of pocket.

Dr Julia Aglionby, Professor of Practice at University of Cumbria said: “If farmers are being asked to do something different they should be properly rewarded for that.”

The Department for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said further information has recently been published, including what will be rolled out next year and confirmed payment rates by November.

Those who work in the industry say that while there has to be changes made, this is notthe only issue.

Adam Day, Managing Director of the Farmer Network said: "My worry is that the data suggests there will be an extra 10 million people living in this country by 2050 and an extra 2 billion people on this planet.

Knowing that in the UK if we reduce our food production and become less sustainable in food production, that’s a real worry.

"As we look after our environment to the best standards, we must have a question, where is our food coming from?”

Land is also crucial not just to feed us, but to store carbon and prevent it from being released into the atmosphere - if the UK is to be net-zero in less than 30 years, then many more trees need to be planted.

Some farmers have been doing their bit in the Lake District for decades.

Jimmy Brown worked as a forester before joining his dad fulltime at Deepdale Hall Farm where he would bring home spare saplings - since then thousands have been plantedon his land.

He said: "We've been sort of conscious of looking after the environment since the 90s, we have been in various government schemes and we have taken up the option to do thosethings."

Danny Teasdale works for a not for profit community interest group in Ullswater that works with landowners on flood management, conservation and sustainable farming.

Mr Teasdale said that his experiences of working with farmers shows that "ultimatelty what I'm trying to do is to work with the farm and work with their business, and if the farmers got a sustainable business, then the whole environment and conservation part fits in."