Never let the truth get in the way of a good story’ is a Mark Twain quote which could easily be referencing the flurry of misinformation being hurled around by environmental groups about agriculture’s impact on climate change.
These cherry-picked figures, which are wheeled out to add weight to pressure groups’ cause, are, in many cases, completely false and are therefore extremely misleading. They make good headlines, but it is fake news.
These false statistics, which bolster their spurious claims, often fuel national media reports about our industry and are becoming so widely used it’s no wonder the general public is confused.
That is why the NFU’s decision to bring national media journalists and trade press together with academics who can arm them with the real facts on which to base their stories, should be applauded.
My journalism lecturer used to say if one person told you it was raining and the other told you it wasn’t, it was your job to look out of the window and check for yourself before you wrote anything down.
If the mainstream media has the correct information – the truth - then we should hope to see an end to this stream of misinformation, by instead presenting the facts and allowing people to make their own minds up.
And we should not be afraid to challenge this noisy minority of people intent on tarnishing the reputation of our sector – but in a positive way as NFU president Minette Batters suggests.
In this vein it was pleasing to see more than 3,000 Edinburgh University students turn out to vote against proposals to ban the sale of beef on campus to help fight climate change.
This was despite attempts by the proposers to exclude agricultural students from speaking against them during a debate.
Our livestock sector and agricultural industry is one of the most sustainable in the world, it is something to be proud of. With some effort maybe we, like those uni-goers, can drown out the noise of the misinformed minority.