NFU vice-president says scientists calls to reduce meat production for the planet “too simplistic”

The vice-president of the National Farmers’ Union says scientists’ calls to cut meat production to tackle climate change is “too simplistic”.

Researchers wrote a letter to the Lancet Planetary Health journal, calling on countries to “declare a timeframe for peak livestock”, after which production would no longer increase.

But NFU VP Stuart Roberts disagrees with the scientists.

He wrote in The Guardian:

“It is too simplistic to say that cutting livestock numbers everywhere is the most efficient way of reducing emissions.
“The world’s livestock systems differ too significantly for them to be generalised, and doing so hinders the countries that are practising sustainable farming methods and which have an ambition to do even more.
“Compared with the mass-scale intensive systems in the US or Brazil, our livestock systems are unrecognisable. British farmers do not clear rainforest to make way for beef production.
“Our meat does not come from the ashes of the Amazon. We value our carbon sinks.
“What’s more, British farmers have an ambition to become net zero by 2040. We want to lead the way in climate-friendly meat and dairy and pave the way for others to follow. This needs to be recognised.”

The letter to Lancet is supported by more than 50 leading experts, including Prof Pete Smith, a senior author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on land use and climate change.

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