Almost 80 per cent of farmers have branded the BBC anti-farming after prime-time presenter Evan Davis slammed UK animal welfare standards live on air.
According to Farmers Guardian’s Twitter poll, which received 764 votes, 79 per cent of farmers believed the BBC was anti-farming, 11 per cent thought agriculture was portrayed fairly by the broadcaster and 10 per cent did not know either way.
The poll was run after NFU president Minette Batters called on Mr Davis to apologise to the agricultural community for saying UK farmers would not want the public to see what goes on at their place of work.
Mr Davis also claimed UK animal welfare standards were ‘not good’ during a shocking interview on the June 27 edition of the BBC PM show on Radio 4.
Farmers across the country were left stunned by the remarks, which were prompted by the launch of the Government’s new Food Strategy.
FARMERS: In light of @EvanHD’s shocking interview with @Minette_Batters last night, I’d be interested to hear your views on whether you think the BBC - with some honourable exceptions - is becoming anti-farming. Please RT so we can get a good sample.— Abi Kay (@FGAbiKay)
The BBC PM presenter chose to look at the strategy in the context of ‘eating less meat’.
He opened the interview with Ms Batters by asking if this was the ‘next anti-smoking drive’.
“The key thing is, in all the major dimensions – animal welfare, diet and health and the environment – there is a case for eating less meat than most people do,” said Mr Davis.
When challenged by Ms Batters, who told him the UK leads the world in animal welfare standards, Mr Davis replied: “They are not good, let us be honest.
“You would not want us to go round showing pictures of what goes on in a farm, would you?”
This drew an angry response from the NFU president, who said she ‘absolutely rejected that’.
“We have just had Open Farm Sunday, where farms right across the country have opened their doors and welcomed everybody in,” she added.
“We are really proud of the standards we have in the UK and you cannot say what you have just done. I think it is extremely offensive and it is untrue.”
As a result of the backlash caused by the presenter’s remarks, BBC PM ‘fact-checked’ Mr Davis’ statements on the next show the following evening, with Farming Today presenter Caz Graham visiting Cumbrian livestock farmer Will Case and Prof David Main from the Royal Agricultural University, pointing out the UK was ‘pretty well-placed’ when it came to animal welfare standards.
NFU PRESIDENT CALLS ON DAVIS TO VISIT HER FARM
NFU PRESIDENT Minette Batters is calling on BBC presenter Evan Davis to visit her farm after his ‘disappointing’ line of questioning .
In an opinion piece for Farmers Guardian, Ms Batters said she had ‘never experienced’ an interview quite like the PM one in over 20 years.
“My shock and disappointment at his comments was clear and it was shared by many of you who took to social media to share your disbelief and frustrations,” she added.
“It would be unfair to say this bias pervades the entire BBC – it is currently the only broadcaster that devotes significant time to farming and rural issues. It is also wrong to say the farming industry is not up for challenge or rational debate.
“But if such a large broadcaster continues to address massive issues such as food security, standards and feeding a growing population through only one lens of whether we should eat less meat, it misses the point.”