Letter to The Guardian in response to column on air pollution

29 September 2023

NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw leaning on a metal gate in a field.

NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw

This letter has been sent to The Guardian in response to George Monbiot’s column: We are being poisoned every day, so why do we keep voting for more pollution? Ask a lobbyist

As usual, George Monbiot’s article on air pollution only seeks to create a dichotomy between food production and the environment. But anyone with any real experience in farming knows how much the two work hand in hand.

Since the 80s there has been a huge push within the farming sector to help improve air quality and in this time we have reduced ammonia emissions by 14%. We know there is more to do and with the help of government policy and investment we are working to reduce this further.

At the same time as working to improve air quality, farmers are also taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and boost soil health. Recycling livestock manure has always been at the heart of sustainability, building organic matter and acting as a natural fertiliser for the soil, helping to cut farming’s artificial fertiliser use by around 50%1 and avoid nitrous oxide emissions from its manufacture. Many farms would be lost without it.

Mr Monbiot would like everyone to believe farmers don’t care, but the environments we work in are our homes and often have been for generations. Improving air quality, mitigating climate change, boosting biodiversity and maintaining sustainable businesses, all while supplying our customers with world-leading, climate-friendly food, are all things British farmers do every single day and we take them very seriously.

And they’re what the NFU’s lobbying work is centred around; enabling Britain’s farmers to deliver for the nation.

NFU Deputy President

Tom Bradshaw


More information:

  1. Nitrogen fertiliser application has reduced by 42% since the 80s and phosphate fertiliser application has reduced by 69% in the same period.