The latest machination coming from the so-called ‘opinion formers’, who seem to have the ear of government advisors in London, is the introduction of a ‘Meat Tax’ at consumer level.

This approach, it is argued, would have the combined impact of reducing meat consumption levels (I can really see the health benefits coming through now), while also helping to reduce the overall carbon footprint of production agriculture.

What absolute drivel! In my opinion, none of this makes sense at any level. This is a scurrilous and unfounded attack on livestock farming in this part of the world.

Yet, it has to be taken seriously. I make this point because economists at Rothamsted Research have already crunched the numbers where the introduction of a 'UK Meat Tax' is concerned.

Thankfully, this work has confirmed that such a development would not prove feasible, from an economic point of view.

But this is not the point. The reality is that UK farming and food policy is now being driven by think tanks, primarily located in London – most of which have been set up to reflect a very anti-farming agenda.

Meat tax and think tanks

Actually, forget farming, these organisations have all being paid to espouse specific opinions, based on research that has a very one-sided perspective.

They receive vast sums of money from commercial and stakeholder organisations – all wanting to promote their own political agendas.

In other words, the conclusions seem to have been put in place first with the ‘so-called’ research specifically structured to arrive at a prescribed end point.

As a result, all utterances from think tanks should be taken with a very large pinch of salt.

To even suggest that these organisations are communicating unbiased messages to the public verges on nonsense.

UK government on food policy

Of even greater concern is the fact that the UK government seems happy to take on board the recommendations from think tanks and a number of research organisations – that really should know better - when it comes to setting future farming and food policy.

Rothamsted Research is a case in point. Recent days have seen that organisation release a number of press statements reflecting on the UK’s recently published National Food Strategy report.

Where the specifics of a proposed 'Meat Tax' are concerned, one has to read through almost 600 words of commentary before any reference is made to the benefits of maintaining any vestige of a beef industry in the UK.

This will come as very cold comfort to livestock farmers on the island of Ireland plus those in Scotland and Wales.

I should add that the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) seems to be doing very little to actively counter the insidious commentary that now fills out airwaves, where livestock production is concerned.

Countering all of this is the good news that Ireland – north and south – should soon be able to use the much discussed grass-fed PGI as a key marketing tool in the UK market and beyond.

It is vitally important that the Irish beef industry has an opportunity to get actively involved in the ‘food debate’ now evolving in the UK.

The availability of the PGI provided the perfect opportunity for Ireland to profile the nutritional and environmental benefits of producing beef from grazed grass.

And the sooner this can take place, the better.