NFU slams McCartney's meat-free Mondays

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has warned that “simplistic sound-bites” from celebrities over meat consumption will not help solve the issue of climate change.

The Union was talking ahead of Sir Paul McCartney’s speech to the EU Parliament today, where he repeated calls for people to eat less meat.

NFU president Peter Kendall has urged those involved in the climate change debate to keep emissions from UK livestock in perspective, rather than laying the burden of blame at the door of livestock farmers.

“We keep hearing how we should eat less meat to save the planet, but this simplistic sound-bite does not help solve what is a very real and complex situation,” he said. “Sir Paul McCartney is a well-respected musician, but he should not be using this debate to further what are his personal, strident vegetarian beliefs. This is just unhelpful.

“We see the UK car industry is praised for, and encouraged to, produce more efficient and environmentally friendly cars, which will be needed for our low-carbon future. I strongly believe food producers in this country should be treated in the same way.

“The idea of giving up meat or reducing our national herds and flocks is unnecessary. Instead, we need to see more investment made in agricultural research and development to help farmers and growers produce more efficiently. We need to work with our food producers, not alienate them, and we cannot simply export production and emissions abroad.”

Kendall pointed out that there is no “silver bullet” to the problem of climate change, but added that farmers are working hard to reduce its impact on the environment.

“This week’s Change in the Air report by Eblex makes a great start, looking at the current emissions challenge facing the sector and what can, and will, be done to further reduce its impact,” he said.

“I believe that practical solutions are already being found and we should focus our energies on encouraging the uptake of such solutions and developing longer-term solutions.”