Most UK farmers say not feeling climate change

LONDON (Reuters) - An increasing number of British farmers say they are unaffected by climate change, a survey found on Friday.

British public belief in climate change in general has sagged in the aftermath of disclosure of errors made by a U.N. climate panel report.

Some 62 percent of a poll of 414 farmers said they were unaffected by climate change, up from nearly 50 percent who said last year that they had not felt its effects.

“For farming there’s been a very tough winter, a lot of snow, that may be part of it, and generally people seem bit more cynical and apathetic,” said Madeleine Lewis, strategic adviser to the UK advisory group Forum for the Future.

Overall, farmers were much more likely to disagree than agree that climate change had become more relevant to them in the past year. Some said that the economic crisis had forced climate change down their priorities.

In addition, the number of respondents who expected climate change to impact them in the next 10 years was down, at 57 percent versus 63 percent last year.

Britain may be spared the more extreme consequences of climate change, as a rather cool, wet country where crop yields may benefit from slightly higher temperatures.

Climate change could lead to more droughts and floods, higher temperatures and rising seas, experts say.

About a third of farmers were taking action to prepare, most commonly through better water management for example to prepare for droughts or floods.

Almost half of farmers were doing something to cut carbon emissions. Britain targeted last year a 6 percent cut in farm greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The government has introduced new incentives for example for anaerobic digestion, where farmers earn support to trap greenhouse gases from manure.

In addition, the government-backed Carbon Trust has offered interest-free loans for farmers to upgrade to more energy efficient equipment. Only about a third of farmers were interested in measuring their carbon footprint, the survey said.