Farming News - Farmers encouraged to champion British meat after inflammatory BBC documentary

Farmers encouraged to champion British meat after inflammatory BBC documentary

26 Nov 2019
Frontdesk / Livestock

NFU Vice President Struan Roberts is encouraging farmers to showcase the great story that British livestock farming has to tell following the inflammatory BBC documentary Meat: A threat to our planet?

He said:"Over the next week we are likely to see renewed media coverage of global livestock farming and its impact on the climate as the BBC airs its latest documentary Meat: A threat to our planet?

He said prior to the programme that:"The title of the programme is clearly alarmist and, we believe, misleading in its own right. We will be complaining to the BBC in the strongest terms if the programme goes on to display partiality, bias against or misinformation about British farming.

"It has been frustrating to see the continued media portrayal of red meat production as the same throughout the world – especially when the truth is that British red meat is some of the most sustainable in the world, produced by farmers who care – with a greenhouse gas footprint 2.5 times lower than the global average.

"However we can, as an industry, have a hugely positive impact. Could you take the time to share your farming story and the story of the British livestock sector to showcase the positive contribution British farming makes?"

The programme focused on North American farming methods, not those followed in the UK, which the National Beef Association (NBA) is eager to highlight.

“Beef production systems across the globe are too often portrayed the same, which is far from the truth,” says Chris Mallon, NBA National Director.

“The UK is one most of the most sustainable places in the world to produce red meat because 60% of the land that makes up our agricultural landscapes is unsuitable for planting crops. Grazing livestock converts the naturally occurring grass into high quality protein, enabling the world’s growing population to be fed sustainably.”

“Grazing livestock also acts as a fertilizer for soils, which leads to higher levels of carbon sequestration, so actually acts as a carbon sink, something that is rarely remembered.

The carbon footprint of UK beef is 35% lower than the global average and UK Agriculture contributes only 10% to UK emissions, while transport and energy supply make up over 50%.”

Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers Executive Manager, Martin Morgan said: “It comes as no surprise that in the run up to the festive period we are treated to yet another programme from the BBC pillaring the farming industry, without doing their job properly and researching the true facts as to how livestock are farmed in the British Isles. What happens on the other side of the world is not comparable to the sustainable production methods that have been deployed by generations of UK farmers. 
“Predictably, the programme failed to address the vast differences between the feed lots of the USA and the extensive grass-based production of beef and lamb on which the supreme quality of Scotch beef and lamb is founded.  It was a narrow and grossly incomplete presentation of red meat production and was totally lacking in balance.
“It is hugely disappointing that in presenting this image of meat production to UK consumers, the producers of this particular ‘hatchet job’ failed to seek any input from Quality Meat Scotland or their counterparts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
“Thankfully, the loyal customers of the Scotch brand are better informed than the BBC and will continue to approach their sourcing of red meat from climate-aware and sustainable production systems.”