NFU media coverage: Climate change

Stuart Roberts interview_65169


The Guardian reported on Sir Ian Boyd’s comments that half of the nation’s farmland should be turned into woodlands to fight the climate crisis. NFU Deputy President Guy Smith is quoted outlining the NFU’s net zero ambition and emphasising that we cannot halt climate change by exporting production abroad.

Financial Times reported on recent documentaries focussing on veganism, quoting NFU Cymru milk board chairman Abi Reader commenting on concerns that her farm could be targeted by activists and NFU President Minette Batters adding that a plant-based diet “should not masquerade as the only solution to climate change”.

NFU Deputy President Guy Smith featured on BBC Radio 4 PM on Tuesday’s programme talking about rewilding farmland and concerns that we could end up offshoring our carbon footprint to other parts of the world lacking the same environmental conscious as the UK. Listen from 40 mins.

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 Veganuary.


  • The Times reflects on each political party’s promise to plant more trees in order to absorb more carbon from the atmosphere, with pressure on agricultural land to be sacrificed. NFU Deputy President Guy Smith comments that the NFU supports the “well-placed woods or copses on farmland that don’t significantly diminish UK food production capacity”.
  • On Farming Today, NFU Staffordshire county chairman Richard Bower was interviewed from COP25 about the current debate around livestock production and climate change. He told Caz Graham that farmers are on then frontline of climate change and want to help achieve the NFU’s net zero emissions by 2040 ambition.
  • NFU member Joe Stanley wrote a column for The Guardian, explaining why as cattle farmer he experiences constant criticism before highlighting livestock production in the UK as one of the most sustainable production systems in the world.
  • Sky News' climate change correspondent Hannah Thomas-Peter has engaged positively with the NFU, after we raised concerns over a recent report on the environmental impact of the global meat and dairy industries. NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts spent time talking Hannah through the progress British farming has made when it comes to sustainability, and how "we see ourselves as part of the solution to climate change", messages that made their way into a follow-up opinion piece considering the nuances of the climate change debate. 

  • NFU President Minette Batters responded to Professor Sir Ian Boyd, the government's former chief environment scientist, who told the BBC’s environment analyst Roger Harrabin that climate policies after Brexit will alter the landscape more than people expect. Minette was quoted in the BBC News article, as well as BBC Radio 4 news bulletins, rejecting his suggestion that there will be less grazing livestock as people reduce their red meat consumption. The article highlighted the NFU's ambition to achieve net zero emissions in agriculture by 2040, as well as the fact that grasslands can't be used for any economically useful purpose other than grazing.

11 September 2019

Guy Smith on Sky News on the NFU's net zero report_68834

NFU President Minette Batters featured on BBC Farming Today in its coverage of the NFU’s net zero plan. She reiterated that achieving our goal does not mean downsizing production while Professor Elizabeth Robinson from the University of Reading said farming’s commitment to offsetting its carbon emissions should be celebrated.

NFU Deputy President Guy Smith appeared on Sky News Sunrise and showcased the practical solutions that will help farmers achieve net zero emissions by 2040, including planting trees and hedges, growing crops for fuel and changing our cows’ diet to produce less methane

10 September 2019

The Guardian exclusively reported the NFU’s plan to achieve net zero emissions in agriculture by 2040 this morning. The report quoted NFU President Minette Batters, who said growing fuel for power stations, increasing the carbon stored in soils, and using technology to reduce the emissions caused by cattle and fertiliser use will help farmers reduce to emissions. The story was also covered in BBC Radio’s news bulletins this morning.

9 August 2019

Minette discussing IPCC report on BBC News_67680

NFU President Minette Batters featured on BBC News Channel and 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.

Stuart Roberts discussing the IPCC report on Channel 4 News_67681

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.

Hugh Broom discusses the IPCC report on ITV News_67682

In light of the report, ITV News interviewed NFU livestock board member Hugh Broom where 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.

Farming Today also focused 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. Listen again from 8 mins.

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 includes 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.

19 August 2019

NFU Deputy President Guy Smith was on NFU member Joe Stanley’s farm in Leicestershire talking to BBC Breakfast and the BBC News Channel about climate change and the impact extreme weather has had on crops. 

16 July 2019

NFU Deputy President Guy Smith was interviewed by 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.

7 July 2019

Channel 4 News reported a progress update from the Committee on Climate Change, in which it criticised the lack of progress made to achieve the Government’s net zero by 2050 target. NFU President Minette Batters was interviewed and said farmers would embrace new technology but that public investment would be needed to help farmers tackle climate change. 

30 May 2019

Country Life magazine published a piece which explores how consumers can help slow down climate change by buying British produce, due to British agriculture having a lower impact on climate change than other farming systems. NFU Deputy President Guy Smith is quoted highlighting the NFU’s net zero ambition.

21 May 2019

NFU President Minette Batters spoke on the BBC Radio 4 programme You & Yours (35 mins 42 secs) where she emphasised that smart farming and embracing new technologies, as opposed to lowering food production, is the solution to reaching net zero emissions across the economy.

3 May 2019

The BBC Radio 4 programme World at One (23 mins 30 secs) featured NFU President Minette Batters discussing her reaction to the climate change report recommendations. Minette emphasised that it is about smarter farming, using things like renewable energy, and not about downsizing production. This programme attracts around 1.4 million listeners daily.

NFU Deputy President Guy Smith featured on BBC Radio 1 news 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

BBC Radio 5 Live spoke to NFU Deputy President Guy Smith about the recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change’s 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 then 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. 

NFU member Martin Lines from Papley farm near Cambridge was also interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 PM programme discussing the work he is doing to reduce carbon emissions, ensure good soil health and the importance of glyphosate. 

Last edited on: 23:05:2019

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