The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued a global report into land use and its impact on the climate.
In response to its findings, NFU President Minette Batters said:
“Having gone through the report in detail, it is clear that the IPCC recognises the important role animal products play in a balanced diet, and when produced sustainably in low greenhouse gas emission systems actually part of the solution to climate change.
“It is therefore incredibly frustrating to see this inflated within some part of the media to recommending a reduction of meat consumption in the UK.
“I take this opportunity to reiterate that our aspiration to become net zero – reducing our greenhouse gas footprint and offsetting emissions – by 2040 does not mean downsizing agricultural production. This would only export our production to countries which may not have the same standards of environmental protection.
“Our plan for achieving our net zero goal is focused on making the most of our natural resources. With 65% of UK farmland best suited to growing grass, this means using our grasslands, which are also a huge store of carbon, to produce high quality beef and lamb.
“British farmers are determined to continue reducing methane emissions through a variety of methods, including dietary changes and breeding techniques. Alongside this, we are also looking for ways to continue to improve soil health and increase organic matter within our soils, which is one of our greatest assets".
“With last year’s weather extremes and the recent flooding in Yorkshire, there is no denying that we are already seeing the impacts of climate change and it is encouraging that the report recognises the threat the climate poses on food security. We now need to see government policies that will support the farming industry in delivering on its net zero ambition.”
NFU in the media
On the day the report was published, NFU officeholders and board members were interviewed across a range of media.
- NFU President Minette Batters was interviewed by BBC News at Ten where she said that livestock farmers produce high-quality meat using incredibly sustainable farming systems, and expressed her frustration that areas of the report such as food waste had been ignored in media reports.
- NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts appeared on Channel 4 News where he explained that British farmers are leading the way in sustainable food production and that we need to look at global reports through a local lens. His interview from the BBC Radio 4 Today programme also featured on news bulletins across BBC radio stations including Radio 1 and 5 Live during the day, and he spoke on several regional BBC stations throughout the afternoon.
- ITV News interviewed NFU livestock board member Hugh Broom who emphasised the role high-quality meat has to play in a healthy, balanced diet.
- NFU combinable crops board chairman Tom Bradshaw spoke to BBC World Service about the impact of climate change on food production, explaining that farmers are on the front line of extreme weather.
- Farming Today also covered the publication of the report and featured NFU Cymru member Abi Reader who said we need to take into account the greenhouse gas footprint of UK beef and dairy production rather than just the global picture.
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