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Climate change and beef

  • by JW

“Buy British food and don’t rely on imports.”


The debate over red meat’s impact on the environment is very heated, as covered in these news pages:

Farmers tackling climate change

Our appetite for cheap beef is destroying the Amazon rainforest

The debate over meat… and ethical farming in Sidbury

UK agricultural methane is not contributing to global warming


The beef lobby have responded to the latest report as covered on these news pages:

Climate change: technical solutions?


The FarmingUK website reports:


Beef farmers criticise new calls for public to cut red meat

Beef producers have criticised new calls for the public to reduce red meat consumption as a way for the UK to reach its net zero target by 2050.

A report by the government-funded research group Energy Systems Catapult suggested that people need to stop flying and slash meat intake to reach the goal. It warns that livestock production may need to be cut by 50 percent rather than the 20% currently suggested by the Committee on Climate Change. Consumers will need to eat less red meat and dairy by the same amount, the report added.

“Interactions between diet and the energy system are significant,” Energy Systems Catapult said. “A transition away from current levels of livestock would free up UK land for other uses, including afforestation and biomass crops, both enabling carbon sequestration and the latter providing a versatile resource for the energy system.”

Responding to the report’s calls, the National Beef Association suggested that people should instead buy British food and not rely on imports.

NBA’s spokesman Neil Shand told BBC News: “It does seem rather unfortunate that the report links beef production and aviation in this way. The timing is more than a little ironic; the shops are full of people panic-buying and it seems clear that the nation’s food sector relies very heavily on imports, and the associated transport that brings them into the UK.”

He added: “Food produced on their own doorstep, using a system where animal and non-animal foods are symbiotic requires very little air travel, and makes excellent use of the resources our beautiful country provides. Foreign travel does not have the same necessity.”

It comes as the NFU recently launched a new toolkit for farmers to help them challenge media inaccuracies surrounding British red meat production. It is aimed at supporting farmers to confidently communicate key and complex messages, such as the environment and climate change, health and nutrition and animal health and welfare.

Speaking last month at the NFU Conference, the union’s President Minette Batters told delegates that the industry is working to dispel myths which focus on British red meat production. She explained that the UK livestock sector is 2.5 times more efficient than other systems seen around the world.

Beef farmers criticise new calls for public to cut red meat |