The four UK farming union Presidents and other industry leaders have responded to the BBC’s documentary Meat: a threat to our planet?
They said: “At no point did the documentary explain the vast differences between American meat production and UK production. This was a massive oversight considering the BBC’s audience and would have left people with the impression that all meat is produced in the same way.
“We know the public want to eat sustainably and they can do this by investing in the UK livestock sector, which is already producing some of the most climate-friendly beef and lamb in the world and has an ambition to do even more. Beef production in the UK is already 2.5 times more efficient than the global average and 4 times more efficient than places which are deforesting land.
“Simply showing the environmental impact of beef production in North and South America does nothing to help people make informed choices about food which can be grown and reared in ways that offer benefits for the environment.
“For example, with the UK’s climate, landscape and grass-based systems we have the means, and the ambition, to provide quality, nutritious meat in ways that not only protect the environment but help mitigate the world’s impact on the climate.
“The documentary did, however, demonstrate 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.
“If we are to maintain our values of environmental protection and animal welfare which are at the core of UK farming, and we know the public want to uphold, future trade deals must ensure all imports meet the standard required of UK farmers.”
Kate Rowell, Chair of Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), said: “When it comes to sustainability, the Scottish red meat industry is in stark contrast to intensive production methods which are used in other countries.
“We have an abundant, natural fresh water supply and produce quality beef and lamb from the grass and rough grazing which make up around 80 percent of Scotland’s agricultural land which is not suitable for cereal, fruit or vegetable production. Scotland’s grassland also acts as a carbon sink and grazing animals provide habitats for wildlife and help to maintain the landscape.
“When consumers see the Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork brands in their supermarket or butcher’s shop they can be assured that the meat they are buying has come from quality assured, sustainable Scottish farms where animal welfare and high production standards are a priority.”