Farmers have flooded social media with ‘the other side of the story’ following the BBC’s latest documentary and what they said was a ‘biased’ take on beef farming.
Farmers who voiced their concern said the ‘Meat: A Threat To Our Planet’ programme had failed to differentiate between US and UK beef production and ‘left people with the impression that all meat is produced in the same way’.
Others said the programme outed why consumers should buy British, adding it was ‘the best advert’ for sustainable British agriculture.
There was a three-minute video snippet posted on the BBC twitter page about a US farmer rotating his cattle daily to encourage carbon sink, which appears to have been cut from the final edit.
NFU president Minette Batters said she would be ‘yet again’ be writing to the BBC to complain.
#MeatAThreatToOurPlanet was yet again so biased in its views on #BeefFarming. I will yet again be writing to complain @bbcpress Director General Tony Hall. If this programme had one message it’s this: cheap food but at what price? #BBC morally, ethically you must provide balance.— minette batters (@Minette_Batters)
#MeatAThreatToOurPlanet was yet again so biased in its views on #BeefFarming. I will yet again be writing to complain @bbcpress Director General Tony Hall. If this programme had one message it's this: cheap food but at what price? #BBC morally, ethically you must provide balance.— minette batters (@Minette_Batters) November 26, 2019
“To make out that all the world’s farmers produce meat like the US was so very wrong,” she said. “If this programme had one message, it is this: cheap food but at what price?”
The four UK farming presidents issued a joint statement which highlighted the need for any future trade deals to uphold British environmental and animal welfare standards.
“The documentary demonstrate[d] the concerns UK farming has about future trade and what we could expect to see on our supermarket shelves if the government were to allow food into the country which has been produced in ways that would be illegal here,” it said.
Investigative journalist Joanna Blythman highlighted the air miles taken to produce the documentary.
She tweeted: “Texas, Brazil, South Africa. Liz Bonnin clocks up the air miles as she cherry picks [the] worst examples of meat production.
“Aided and abetted by the BBC using taxpayer money to hurt good UK regenerative farmers.”
RUMA communications officer Amy Jackson said she was worried about the ‘grass fed good, everything else bad’ message emerging.
British beef cattle are grazed on traditional pasture land, not on burnt out rainforest. Our welfare standards are some of the world’s highest.— Will Case (@will_case
Buy sustainable - buy British 🇬🇧
She said: “People might be surprised to find that sustainable comes in many forms.
“High efficiency, feeding of waste foods, sustainable protein could be every bit as environmentally friendly.”
Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) executive manager Martin Morgan added: “It comes as no surprise that in the run up to the festive period we are treated to yet another programme from the BBC pillorying the farming industry, without doing their job properly and researching the true facts as to how livestock are farmed in the British Isles.
Were anyone in any doubt as to why we should treasure our 🇬🇧 standards of #sustainable #livestock production, watch ‘#MeatAThreatToOurPlanet’.— Joe Stanley 🇬🇧 (@JoeWSt
A shame that @BBCOne @lizbonnin chose not to acknowledge the quantum difference between UK #farming and global worst practice 🤷♂️ 1/4 pic.twitter.com/4YrCfmc7vV019
Were anyone in any doubt as to why we should treasure our \uD83C\uDDEC\uD83C\uDDE7 standards of #sustainable #livestock production, watch ‘#MeatAThreatToOurPlanet’.— Joe Stanley \uD83C\uDDEC\uD83C\uDDE7 (@JoeWStanley) November 26, 2019
A shame that @BBCOne @lizbonnin chose not to acknowledge the quantum difference between UK #farming and global worst practice \uD83E\uDD37♂️ 1/4 pic.twitter.com/4YrCfmc7vV
“Predictably, the programme failed to address the vast differences between the feed lots of the USA and the extensive grass-based production of beef and lamb on which the supreme quality of Scotch beef and lamb is founded.”
The Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) said it was fully engaged with the responsible sourcing agendas on soya, palm oil and fishmeal and was ‘taking an active role’ in the UK roundtables on sustainable soya and palm oil.
A spokesperson added: “AIC is actively encouraging the feed industry’s mass market move to secure, resilient supplies of sustainable soya to the UK.
“AIC will add their voice to that of the European feed industry in calling for the maintenance of the Amazon Soy Moratorium which ensures that no soy from the Amazon biome is sourced for inclusion in animal feed in Europe with the result that soy is no longer a driver of deforestation in the Amazon Biome.”