Livestock farming plays a key role

Sweeping statements about agriculture by celebrities in the run-up to UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) fail to take account of the positive environmental roles played by UK livestock farming.

That was the message from the National Sheep Association (NSA) after a host of celebrities who had chosen a plant-based diet wrote to COP 26 president, MP Alok Sharma, calling for a reduction in global meat production.

“While it is right to discuss food production systems within the climate change debate, farming which works in harmony with nature should not be overlooked,” said NSA chief executive, Phil Stocker.“The over-simplification of this message is misleading – not least because UK agriculture, and particularly sheep farming, is different to countries that do not grow as much grass as us.”

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He said the UK sheep industry operated extensively on open pasture, much of which was unsuitable for growing crops, and claimed that grass-fed lamb had a lower environmental impact than processed foods based on soya, almonds or palm oil, while pastureland also acted as a vital carbon sink.“Sheep used in mixed farming systems help naturally rejuvenate soil for arable crops, and farmers of all different types work hard to find a balance between biodiversity and productivity on farm, providing thriving habitats to support and protect nature.”

Stocker warned that cutting livestock numbers overlooked the sectors contribution to nature recovery, landscape management and food production.

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