NFU condemns CIWF campaign

The National Farmers Union yesterday condemned a renewed campaign calling on people to eat less meat and dairy products because of their alleged contribution to climate change.

Compassion In World Farming published research suggesting that eating meat has a bigger impact on climate change than driving a car. It implied that the livestock industry produces 18% of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions as opposed to transport's 14%.

The NFU disputed the way these figures have been presented. Official statistics show that the entire British farming sector contributes an estimated seven per cent of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions.

The report upon which CIWF bases its research actually concluded the livestock sector contains the potential to solve many environmental problems worldwide, with major improvements possible at reasonable cost. For example, methane emissions from UK agriculture have fallen by 13.5% since 1990.

Jonathan Scurlock, the NFU's chief adviser for Renewable Energy and Climate Change, said: "The role livestock plays in climate change is extremely complex, and we should recognise the potential for British farming to lead the world by adopting new techniques.

"Agriculture offers a variety of solutions to the problem of climate change, for instance by increasing the efficiency of livestock diets or by treating manures with anaerobic digestion to produce biogas as a clean energy source.

"CIWF also takes no account of the range of environmental services provided by livestock farming in maintaining landscape character and storing carbon in soils.

"British livestock farming offers quality-assured meat and dairy products which are important to maintain a healthy diet, contribute to a diverse rural economy, and help to maintain the biodiversity of grazed uplands."