Farm groups across the UK have hit out at the mainstream media for pushing an anti-meat agenda in its coverage of a new UN report on climate change and land use.
The paper, published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), highlighted the impact climate change is having on the environment and food security across the globe.
It recommended a number of options for mitigating the worst effects, such as agroforestry, afforestation, soil carbon management and recovering peatlands.
Increasing agricultural productivity, cutting food waste and moving towards healthy diets – which include animal products from ‘sustainable and low emission systems’ – were also listed as possible ways to combat rising temperatures.
NFU president Minette Batters said: “Having gone through the report in detail, it is clear the IPCC recognises the important role animal products play in a balanced diet, and when produced in sustainably in low greenhouse gas emission systems, they are actually part of the solution to climate change.
“It is therefore incredibly frustrating to see this inflated in some parts of the media to recommending a reduction of meat consumption in the UK.”
In Wales, HCC chief executive Gwyn Howells also hit out at the ‘selective’ reporting of the report, which he welcomed.
“The report’s authors are quoted as saying people need to consume balanced diets – a combination of plant-based products and food from sustainably-farmed animals,” he said.
“It also warns against taking land out of food production, arguing this might impact on global food security.”
NFU Cymru president John Davies joined Mr Howells in highlighting the report’s focus on balanced diets, and pointed out the climate impact of Welsh grazing is among the lowest in the world.
“We will not halt climate change by limiting Welsh food production and off-shoring it to countries across the world which may not have the same environmental conscience or ambition to reduce their climate impact,” he said.
CLA president Tim Breitmeyer was also keen to emphasise the work already being undertaken by farmers in the UK to mitigate climate change.
“When polled, 95 per cent of CLA members were incorporating climate change mitigation into their business plans, which shows the determination of the landowning community to support the global effort to protect the environment,” he said.
“There is no silver bullet to dealing with climate change. Farmers are keen and ready to farm in the most sustainable way, but tax, planning and future agriculture policies must allow them to do so.”