- August 22, 2019
- Posted by: Siobhan Baillie
- Category: Environment
If you search #Farm24 on Instagram or Twitter you will find a wonderful showcase for British farming. Colourful action shots fused with information about life on a farm. Through harvest, the huge food producing machinery and agri-tech sector has been proudly on display.
Social media is all about the image so it cannot possibly portray the farmers’ stonkingly hard daily graft, all the changeable weather they deal with and unexpected disappointments. The long, often isolated, days are however improved by the connectivity that social media brings. This is particularly true for the young farmers I talk to so their campaigns are well worth following.
#Farm24 also thankfully coincided with a new IPCC report on land use and climate change. The media loudly said the report suggested we should all change our diets to save the planet by reducing our meat consumption. My immediate reaction was to shout at the radio ‘what about our farmers!?’. The agriculture sector is already under pressure and our farmers are ahead of the curve in their work to tackle climate change in any event.
British livestock farmers produce high quality meat and promote sustainable farming systems. They have committed to be carbon net zero by 2040, and as they are in charge of approximately 70% of land in the UK – their role in this fight is vital. It is also worth a note that 65% of UK farmland is only suitable for growing grass and grazing livestock. It cannot be used for other types of food.
UK livestock is estimated to produce around 5% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and smart practices mean that beef production in Western Europe is 2.5 times more efficient in managing carbon emissions than the global average. Total greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture have fallen by 17% since 1990 and farms have diversified to produce renewable energy to help power homes.
To be completely clear, I believe strongly that diets should be a personal choice so I fully respect decisions to be vegetarian or vegan or take up any other type of diet. Further, I do not doubt that the IPCC report is well researched and the authors have good intentions. Yet, it is important that headlines do not create panic or have unintended consequences for a hard working sector. We can all work together to achieve important goals for the environment without alienating anybody.
The beautiful countryside in Stroud, the Valleys and Vale shows that our local farmers are custodians of vast areas of the environment here. In addition, they are food producers. They are front line in our high animal welfare standards. They care deeply about climate change and it arguably affects them more than most. They are scientists, innovators and are advancing the technology that is our best chance of beating the existing net carbon zero targets.
It is with all this in mind that I will continue shouting at the radio, telly and anybody who will listen to stand up for them.
Back British Farmers – help the planet.