NFU media coverage: Livestock farming

Minette Batters Conference_62083

The NFU receives widespread coverage across national, regional and agricultural trade media.

Click on the links below for a round up of the coverage we have achieved this year on the topic of livestock production. 

Getting the message across

British farming has a fantastic story to tell. Click here for the NFU's new suite of shareable infographics to help farmers showcase the British beef and sheep industry on social media.

See how the NFU is also communicating these messages to the public with our myth-busting Q&A on the Countryside website.

January 2020

NFU Cymru milk board chairman Abi Reader featured on Channel 4’s Apocalypse Cow programme, debating the future of British farming with George Monbiot and emphasising that rewilding land currently used for farming would simply export our carbon footprint abroad. 

NFU member James Small stressed that British red meat as part of a healthy, balanced diet can help the public make better choices when it comes to mitigating the impact of climate change in a report by Sky News looking at the Veganuary campaign.

December 2019

NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts’ letter to The Guardian in response to an article on the pressure facing the Government to set targets on reducing emissions from livestock production, maintaining the sustainability of British livestock production. reported the letter sent to the Lancet Planetary Health journal from scientists attending COP25, urging all but the poorest countries needed to set a time frame for livestock production to stop growing. NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts is quoted highlighting that British farmers are practicing sustainable farming methods and have an ambition to do more.

The Telegraph reported the decision from the University of East Anglia Union Council to reinstate beef on the University’s menu after banning it last month. NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts is quoted welcoming the news but expressing disappointment that the University will still apply a levy on beef products, and highlighting Britain’s sustainable grass-fed system.

The Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Mail report the BBC’s new Christmas TV advert, which appears to be denigrating the traditional eating of turkey. NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts is quoted saying that this advert takes our concerns about the BBC’s impartiality in its coverage of meat issues a step further.

November 2019

The NFU has been promoting the sustainability of British livestock production to the media following the broadcast of the BBC's Meat: A Threat to Our Planet documentary. Read a summary of our achieved coverage so far:

NFU President Minette Batters’ column explaining why the BBC documentary on meat did not represent what British farmers stand for was published in The Daily Telegraph. She wrote that British methods of production were ignored and, by implication, tarred with the same brush as the most extreme production systems in the world. An editorial piece was included next to the column that argues many British farmers are producing local food in an environmentally friendly way and should be encouraged, not vilified.

NFU President Minette Batters was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on future trade deals and food standards and highlighted our call for those standards to be protected in law as well as the differences in production systems between the US and the UK as shown by the BBC in its documentary on meat.

NFU President Minette Batters was interviewed live on BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine Show about farmers' frustrations over media coverage on red meat and livestock production, and highlighted that how UK farmers are leading the way on producing climate-friendly food, utilising Britain's grasslands and converting inedible grass into a nutritious source of protein. 

NFU President Minette Batters was also featured in BBC Radio 4's The Food Programme where she set out the NFU's ambition to achieve net zero emissions by 2040, and why Britain's livestock production system is one of the most sustainable in the world. 

NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts recorded an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Costing The Earth alongside presenter Tom Heap, with Stuart highlighting the positive contributions British livestock farming makes to our countryside.

The Daily Telegraph reports the strong reaction to the BBC’s documentary on global livestock production. NFU director of communications Fran Barnes is quoted describing the programme as showing farming about as far removed from British beef production as it is possible to be.  

On Farming Today, the Saturday ‘This Week’ edition on 23 November featured NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts at his farm where he spoke to Charlotte Smith about why he plans to extend his herd of cattle despite current challenges in the sector, and the important role of red meat production in tackling climate change.

NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts talked to BBC 5 Live’s Breakfast show, alongside a spokesperson from the Vegan Society, reacting to the BBC documentary Meat: A Threat to Our Planet. He said the programme prompted the public to think about where their food comes from and the importance of buying British meat produced to some of the highest standards in the world.

BBC Countryfile on 24 November saw Tom Heap on a quest to find out what the UK’s beef industry had to do in order to survive following a decrease in profit last year. He spoke to NFU Cymru President John Davies, who highlighted the great story British beef farmers have to tell while cattle farmer and NFU member Jilly Greed said she feels there must be differentiation between different production systems.

NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts is quoted in a BBC Food feature on red meat and the environment, explaining how buying British can help the public make a difference to their carbon footprint.

Livestock farmers and the NFU’s Back British farming message are centre stage in The Sun newspaper every Saturday throughout November, reaching nearly 1.5m people each time and encouraging people to support, seek out and consume more quality British meat.

The high-profile campaign began on 9 November with a four-page pull-out supplement in The Sun's food and lifestyle section. Read more here.

The Sun Back Britain's Farmers_70469

The NFU contacted Sky News' climate change correspondent following an article examining the environmental impact of livestock production and offered her the opportunity to speak to Vice President Stuart Roberts to further understand the nuances involved in the climate change debate. The conversation resulted in a follow-up article that explained the differences in production systems across the world, highlighting Britain as one of the most sustainable.

In this column for The Guardian, NFU member Joe Stanley explains why as a cattle farmer he experiences constant criticism before highlighting livestock production in the UK as one of the most sustainable production systems in the world.

October 2019

Friday 18 October 2019

NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts addressed a panel on Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine debate on the advert, highlighting the sustainability of British beef and criticising the advert’s anti-meat agenda.

Thursday 17 October 2019

NFU Cymru's milk board vice chair Abi Reader highlighted the climate friendly, safe and affordable food produced by British farmers in a debate on the Tesco advert, in which a child states “I don’t want to eat animals any more”,  with Made in Chelsea star Lucy Watson on ITV's This MorningRead the full NFU response. 

Tuesday 15 October - Wednesday 16 October 2019

The Independent picked up farmers’ concerns, reporting the NFU’s response, while a column in The Daily Telegraph by Staffordshire dairy farmer Noreen Wainwright cited the advert as another kick for farmers whose livelihoods are at risk. The piece highlighted the mental health issues experienced by farmers and the great lengths they go to to work in an environmentally friendly way.

Access to labour headlines_69648

The NFU’s comments were also reported in BBC Radio 4’s news bulletins and The Times and the Daily Telegraph both reported NFU President Minette Batters’ response to the advert, saying that the advert had caused considerable upset to farmers. 

September 2019

The NFU welcomed the results of the peer-reviewed Downs report, which showed culling is reducing TB in cattle, with national newspapers quoting NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts explaining  . Stuart also wrotea column for Farmers Guardian on the Downs Report - new research that proves the badger cull is working.

For a full review of TB coverage, visit our Focus on TB page. 

The NFU unveiled its vision of how British farming hopes to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 without curbing livestock production, with the launch of its report Achieving Net Zero: Farming's 2040 Goal. The Guardian reported the launch exclusively, with NFU President Minette Batters quoted in The Daily Telegraph, Metro, the i, and MailOnline.

For a full review of our climate change coverage, visit our Focus on Climate Change page. 

23 September 2019

Multiple papers ran the story that Barrister Michael Mansfield, who spoke at the launch of Viva!’s Vegan Now campaign at the Labour Party Conference, said that eating meat should become illegal because of its impact on the planet. NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts commented in The Sun saying that any law would miss the opportunity to be able to produce sustainable food.

11 September 2019

NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts was interviewed for BBC Look East, reacting to the news that Cambridge University has said a ban on red meat items from its menu has resulted in its emissions dropping by a third. He emphasised that consumer choice is being removed and that British beef is produced using sustainable systems.

August 2019

13 August 2019

Stuart Roberts talks tyo Channel 4 News about Goldsmith College's decision to ban beef on campus_67726

Goldsmiths College, University of London, this week announced that it was banning beef products from all of its shops and canteens from next month in a bid to reduce its greenhouse gas footprint in a drive for the college to become carbon neutral by 2025.

NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts recorded an interview with Channel 4 News, in which he expressed frustration that the differences between British beef production and global production were not being acknowledged, and he said Goldsmiths College had missed an opportunity to promote the value of sourcing its beef locally to reduce its carbon footprint.

Mr Roberts said:

"I think it's an extremely naive move, it totally ignores the difference between the carbon footprint for example of British beef and all the headlines we hear about global beef.
"Farmers are more than upset, we are extremely disappointed and arguably angry that we are getting criticised because of lots of global reports which look at global production systems which don't look at what goes on in this country."

HOW TO WATCH AGAIN: Visit the Channel 4 website here (you will need to register / sign in - it's free) and scroll forward to 50:53.

Mr Roberts was also quoted in Sky NewsThe Telegraph, Daily Mail, Daily Express, the i, Metro and Mirror online arguing that this is an overly simplistic approach and that British beef is 2.5 times more efficient than the global average. The NFU’s comments also feature on Good Morning Britain’s coverage of the story.

Channel 4 news_65355

As a result of NFU discussions with BBC on reporting of livestock production in Britain, the BBC hosted a week of farming-related reports, with BBC Breakfast broadcasting live from Joe Stanley's farm Monday through to Thursday in Leicestershire. BBC Focus on Farming_68052

For a full review of our coverage during the BBC Farming Week, visit our Focus on BBC Farming Week page

10 August 2019

NFU President Minette Batters featured on BBC News Channel and 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.

Mrs Batters was also interviewed for BBC News at 10 and emphasised that British farmers are committed to their role in producing climate-friendly food and are working towards an ambition to be net zero by 2040.Minette discussing IPCC report on BBC News_67680

NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts took on George Monbiot 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, and he spoke on several regional BBC stations throughout the afternoon.

Stuart Roberts discussing the IPCC report on Channel 4 News_67681

In light of the IPCC report, ITV News interviewed NFU livestock board member Hugh Broom, in which he 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.

9 August 2019

The IPCC report on land use and climate change dominated broadcast coverage with most programmes talking about changing diets and reducing meat consumption to help the climate.

NFU President Minette Batters featured on BBC News Channel at 5.40pm 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.

Mrs Batters was also interviewed for BBC News at 10 where she emphasised that British farmers are committed to their role in producing climate-friendly food and are working towards an ambition to be net zero by 2040.

Farming Today also focuses on the IPCC report and featured NFU Cymru member Abi Reader where she said we need to take into account the greenhouse gas footprint of UK beef and dairy production rather than just the global picture.

Several papers including The Times, Financial Times and The Telegraph, which features NFU livestock member Andrew Loftus, also covered the story. As part of it’s double page spread on the report, the i included an article headlined ‘We must examine our climate from a local perspective, says farmer’, after speaking to NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts on the issue.

8 August 2019

The IPCC report on land use and climate change has been officially published today which looks at various uses of land that contribute to climate change around the world, including peatland, livestock and food waste. NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts spoke to Radio 4 Today and said that we need to look at global reports through a local lens and recognise that British livestock production systems are some of the most sustainable in the world.

July 2019

16 July

NFU Deputy President Guy Smith’s interview with Sky News aired, in which he reacted to the RSA’s Food, Farming and Countryside Commission report, which recommended a shift in farming practices. He said the Government could help farmers invest in new technology to meet the challenge of maintaining production while lowering our carbon footprint.

9 July 2019

NFU member Will Case wrote about his concerns that a no-deal Brexit could put his business and the future of UK produced food at risk in a column published in The Guardian. He argued shoppers would be subject to food produced to lower standards than our own.

June 2019

27 June 2019

NFU President Minette Batters was interviewed on BBC Radio 4's PM and she spoke to presenter Evan Davis about the newly announced Government National Food Strategy, commenting that it is crucial that this strategy delivers for everyone – from food producers to families across the country, regardless of their income, with farmers being the number one supplier of safe, traceable, affordable food that is produced to high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection. During the interview, he comment that animal welfare is so bad that farmers 'wouldn't want us to go around showing people pictures of what goes on in a farm", causing outrage from farmers on social media.

Following the interview, Minette Batters wrote columns for Farmers Weekly and Farmers Guardian expressing frustration at the line of questioning that attacked the livestock sector and meat consumption. As a result of Minette directly reaching out to Evan Davis on Twitter, he addressed his "clumsy expression" on the programme the following day.

6 June 2019

ITV’s Tonight programme featured an episode on red meat which looked at health implications and the environmental impact of beef farming. NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts was interviewed saying that although cattle emit methane, the UK carbon footprint from cattle is two and a half times lower than the global average.

Stuart Roberts _66075

3 June 2019

The Guardian has published a letter from Vice-President Stuart Roberts which was in response to Julian Baggini’s article saying that a tax on red meat would not help to save the planet. In his letter, Stuart agrees that a tax on red meat is not the solution to climate change and highlights the work British farmers are already doing to tackle this issue.

May 2019

21 May 2019

NFU President Minette Batters spoke on BBC Radio 4’s You & Yours programme, emphasising that smart farming and embracing new technologies as opposed to lowering production is the solution to reaching net zero emissions across the economy.

The Guardian reported calls for billions of pounds in farm subsidies to be redirected towards creating native woodlands and meadows and protecting peat bogs and salt marshes in a report published by Rewilding Britain. NFU Deputy President Guy Smith was quoted saying climate change will not be halted by curbing British production and exporting it to countries which may not have the same environmental conscience.

3 May 2019

NFU President Minette Batters featured on the BBC Radio 4 programme World at One and discussed her reaction to the climate change report recommendations, emphasising that it is about smarter farming, using things like renewable energy and not about downsizing production.

NFU Deputy President Guy Smith was interviewed on BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat discussing the report recommendations to reduce food production. In response, Guy said that this would just mean that we would have to import more food which would make the problem worse.

2 May 2019

The nation newspapers, including The Guardian, i news and The Telegraph, reported the Committee on Climate Change's suggestions for how the UK can reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Recommendations in the report included the consumption of beef, lamb and dairy being cut by around 20%,  and around a fifth of current agricultural land to be used to plant trees.

In response, NFU Deputy President was interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live about the recommendations from the report to plant more trees. Guy emphasised that farmers have already been planting more and more trees, and if we re-forest parts of British agriculture we will have to rely more heavily on imports from areas where rainforests may have been destroyed. The programme also interviewed NFU Cymru President John Davies who spoke about how farmers can reduce their carbon footprint without planting more forests. 

April 2019

2 April 2019

On Farming Today this morning, the programme looked at farm plastic and how it can be recycled by farmers. The start of Great British Beef Week was also discussed, with an interview of NFU member James Small being featured.

Minette Batters - BBC interview - OFC 2019_59538

March 2019

The NFU responded to the publication of the Government's import tariff schedule in the event of a no-deal Brexit. NFU President Minette Batters 

For a full review of coverage on tariffs, visit our Focus on Brexit page. 

February 2019

The Sunday Telegraph reported “flexitarians” are exaggerating the extent of their reduction in meat consumption with NFU deputy president Guy Smith saying sales have not significantly reduced.

The online fashion company Boohoo announced it would stop selling products made from wool after animal rights group Peta accused the industry of “shocking, systemic cruelty”, as reported inews and The Telegraph. The joint statemnent released last year from British Wool, NSA, NAAC, and NFU was referenced in the piece, where we reiterate our zero tolerance of behavior that falls below standard. NFU head of livestock is also quoted in The Telegraph saying wool is far more sustainable than plastic fibres and that the reported examples of cruelty were not representative of the entire industry. Boohoo later reversed its decision saying it would use wool, but ensure it would not contribute to the suffering of sheep.

Sheep farmer Alan Hutton featured in a Bloomberg video piece and in-depth article, explaining why a no-deal Brexit could throw his livelihood into chaos as the cost of lamb to EU buyers is likely to rise dramatically.

January 2019

3-4 January 2019

During The Oxford Conference NFU President Minette Batters provided a keynote speech during the political session alongside Defra Secretary of State Michael Gove. Minette was then interviewed across various platforms, including; BBC News Channel, BBC lunchtime and evening news, Radio 5 Live Drive and Channel 4 News. In her interviews Minette called on Government to protect food standards after the UK leaves the EU, and discussed red meat saying that there is no bad food, just bad diets.

NFU President Minette Batters and Vice President Stuart Roberts were quoted in The Times and The Guardian emphasising the nutritional value of red meat. This was in response to Green Party MP Caroline Lucas’ comments at the Oxford Farming Conference that Government should consider introducing a tax on meat to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

James Small BBC interview_65254

3 January 2019

BBC Breakfast covered veganism and as part of this an interview was aired with NFU South West regional board chairman James Small. He highlighted the health benefits of red meat and said that when the public is looking to buy British, they should look out for the Red Tractor logo to know the product has been produced to some of the highest standards in the world.

Last edited on: 25:11:2019

Share this story:

NFU members: Have your say

Want to share your views? You must be logged in to comment – please login here. Not a member? Join us here.

© 2020 - NFU Online