Farm unions accuses media of ‘inflating’ IPCC report

National Farmers’ Union president Minette Batters has accused the British media of “inflating” the findings of a report by published this week by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IPCC report on land use across the world and its impact on the climate concluded that better land management and dietary changes were needed.

However, NFU president Minette Batters said it was “frustrating” that some media outlets had inferred this meant the panel was recommending meat to be cut out altogether.

“Having gone through the report in detail, it is clear that the IPCC recognises the important role animal products play in a balanced diet,” Batters said.

When produced sustainably in low greenhouse gas emission systems, these are actually part of the solution to climate change.

“It is therefore incredibly frustrating to see this inflated within some part of the media to recommend a reduction of meat consumption in the UK.

“I take this opportunity to reiterate that our aspiration to become net-zero – reducing our greenhouse gas footprint and offsetting emissions – by 2040 does not mean downsizing agricultural production.

This would only export our production to countries which may not have the same standards of environmental protection.

“Our plan for achieving our net-zero goal is focused on making the most of our natural resources.

“With 65% of UK farmland best suited to growing grass, this means using our grasslands, which are also a huge store of carbon, to produce high-quality beef and lamb.

“British farmers are determined to continue reducing methane emissions through a variety of methods, including dietary changes and breeding techniques.”

NFU Cymru president John Davies added: “It is a fact that in Wales we are blessed with the natural resources to produce high-quality protein in the form of meat and dairy products from grass.

The climate impact of Welsh grazing is amongst the lowest in the world. Already research from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation shows that beef production in Western Europe is 2.5 times more carbon-efficient than the global average.

“At the same time, Welsh farmland conserves important carbon stocks in Wales’s uplands and Welsh farms have significant carbon sinks, sequestering carbon in grasslands hedgerows and trees.”

Quality Meat Scotland chairwoman Kate Rowell explained that 80% of the land used for grazing in Scotland was not suitable for cereal, fruit or vegetable production.

“It’s also vital to note that Scotland’s production systems differ to others in other parts of the world,” she said.

Scotland’s grassland acts as a carbon sink and grazing animals provide habitats for wildlife and help to maintain the landscape.

“From 1990-2017, Scottish agriculture decreased its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 29% and is continuing to work hard to pioneer new technologies which will potentially decrease methane emissions and increase carbon capture in the extensive grass areas of Scotland.”