The Swiss Farmers’ Association has warned that the effects of extreme weather due to climate change are already being felt on Swiss farms.
“We must act now,” said the association’sexternal link president, the parliamentarian Markus Ritter at a news conference on Thursday, on a farm near Bern.
Farmers are increasingly being affected by frost, hail, storms, long stretches of rain – or no rain, and summer drought, he said. An example: the extremely dry summer of 2018, which affected crops, especially potatoes, corn on the cob, grains and animal feed.
The union wants to encourage the use of more environmentally friendly crops that use less water.
However, farming also contributes to climate changeexternal link: cows emit methane gases. It is difficult to stop this, Ritter said.
Nevertheless, the association also supports the current revision of the CO2 law, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help Switzerland meet its commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement. It is currently stalled in parliamentexternal link.
Around 13% of greenhouse emissions come from agriculture, if the fuel used for greenhouses and tractors is also counted.
According to Swiss public television (SRF)’s science correspondent Christian von Burgexternal link, climate change is not necessarily all negative for Swiss farmers. Warmer weather means that apricots, figs, millet and soy could be grown domestically, which was not possible before. Wine grapes would also grow better.
“This all helps agriculture, quite a few farmers have already begun to experiment here,” von Burg said.
The farmers however remained alarmed at the pace of climate change. “If it continues like this it could become very warm and dry,” Ritter warned.