NSA concerns on climate change contradictions
The Environment Secretary’s recent comments on climate change are welcome but clarification on the contradictions they highlight is needed, says the National Sheep Association (NSA).
With controversial links between red meat production and climate change continuing to be made the NSA was encouraged to hear comments made by secretary of state for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice at the recent Groundswell event. He rejected the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation to tell the public to eat less meat.
Making the point that achieving climate change goals is possible without lecturing people, Eustice went on to highlight how maintaining grass-fed livestock in Britain, would be a key contributor to the efforts to reach Net Zero.
Underlining the Government’s principle of not wanting to intervene in personal decisions to reduce emissions, including what people choose to eat, the Secretary of State also added that meat should be produced to the very highest standards in a pasture-based system.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker commented: “At NSA we are immensely proud of the way that most of Britain’s sheep farmers produce high quality food and fibre, alongside creating an attractive countryside and a good foundation for nature. The pasture-based system in fact helps to sequester carbon, in addition, sheep farming is known for creating opportunities for new entrants to agriculture as well as supporting local economies. Grass and herbage, and the use of grazing animals is one of the key aspects of regenerative agriculture, building soil life and quality, and with a low dependency on inputs.
“It appears clear that a significant number of consumers are moving towards wanting to ‘buy and eat better’ with key personal drivers tending to be health, the environment, ethics, and animal welfare, as well of course as an enjoyable eating experience. While vegan and trend chasing diets get a disproportionate media coverage the majority of consumers favour a balanced diet, with nutrients that are naturally provided by meat and dairy, complemented by plenty of fruit, vegetables and grains.”
NSA considers there to be contradiction between the Secretary of State’s words at Groundswell and the direction of travel in the Government’s ongoing foreign trade deal negotiations. Stocker concluded: “Maybe what is offered in zero-tariff quotas will never be filled but if it is then you can see a real divide with the UK chasing premium markets around the wealthier parts of the world while we import foods produced in ways that we would not be allowed here – and in doing so conflicting with net-zero food aspirations.”