EU Agriculture Minister Mariann Fischer Boel today (15 September) called for countries to grow more food, in more challenging weather conditions, with lower emissions of greenhouse gases.

Speaking at an informal farm council meeting, being held in Vaxjo, Sweden, the minister who announced she is to step down from her role at the end of her term, said that the tasks of putting the brakes on climate change and adapting to it are “tasks for today, not tomorrow”.

The Danish commissioner, who is to step down from the European Commission at the end of her term, was speaking ahead of an EU climate change conference to take place in December in Copenhagen.

“Carbon dioxide emissions from farming make up only 1% of the European Union’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. Methane accounts for 4%, so we need to do more about methane and nitrous oxide emissions – especially through improvements in livestock production methods,” she told attendees.

Fischer Boel suggested countries would benefit from looking harder for “win-win” options which can help farmers to make money as well as care for the environment.

She also suggested making “a massive effort” in educating farmers about climate change.

“For farmers, as for all of us, many of these challenges are relatively new. Making policy measures available is a good start. But most farmers don’t know where their farms emit the most greenhouse gases. They don’t really know which measures would be best for them, or how much these would cost.”

The minister believes that much of the thinking is being done at farm level only.

“That’s understandable, and is an approach that can work well for adaptation to climate change. But for mitigation, if we want to get maximum value for every euro spent, a bit more planning might be useful.

“These observations are about our use of current policy. Of course, in the future there will almost certainly have to be further changes to the CAP itself – mainly after 2013.”