For an organisation paid for by all sections of society, the BBC often does a good job of making it seem like it is funded by the minority, not the majority, of people, namely non-meat-eaters.
Tin hats were donned across the farming industry in readiness for Monday night’s BBC1 documentary Meat: A Threat To Our Planet?, in which presenter Liz Bonnin explored meat’s impact on global ecosystems.
Focusing mainly on North and South America, Ms Bonnin seemed to have made up her mind right from the outset that meat’s impact on the planet was not justifiable and, with stony face, set forth on a semi-hysterical analysis of meat production.
Visiting pig farms in North America, she uttered the line ‘I do not think the general public has any idea about what is going on to produce the bacon they fry up’, as the emission-spewing helicopter she sat in passed over a number of housed pig units.
And that is the crux of the problem for British agriculture: by making such sweeping statements, she is giving viewers, many of whom will have little understanding of animal agriculture, the impression that all farming systems are the same.
In the pursuit of editorial balance it would have been better to counteract such images with examples of high welfare, grass-based livestock systems here in the UK, but I doubt that fitted the show’s agenda.
Such lapses in objectivity make it increasingly hard to defend the BBC from those who believe there is an anti-farming and anti-meat agenda at play within the organisation.
And yet, so jarring were some of the show’s images of North American feedlots or South American deforestation, that there could be an opportunity for UK agriculture to promote the positives our farming systems have to offer.
Protein from grass-based systems is what UK farmers excel at and, if this documentary means we can shout louder about such methods, then we must.
After all, if the BBC continues to attack the industry through such a skewed journalistic lens, it is incumbent on British agriculture to be on the front foot about what it has to offer.