Farmers Union rebuffs beef production claims

Common comments regarding the inefficiency of beef include claims surrounding water inefficiency and greenhouse gasses.

But the National Farmers Union has hit back at a report by researchers at the University or East Anglia and University of Greifswald, Germany, which studied the long-term effects of meat production on climate and biodiversity.

The report claims that the livestock sector has a deep and wide-ranging environmental impact and that shifting diets should rank as one of the leading focal themes for sustainable policy. It added that meat production was linked to 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which are attributed to forest clearance and methane omitted by cattle and other livestock.

The report also asserts that meat eating uses excessive amounts of water and that chemicals used in its production are deteriorating water quality.

However, National Farmers Union climate change adviser, Ceris Jones, commented that the UK has actually decreased its agricultural green house gas emissions by almost 20% since 1990 and is on track to make further significant reductions over the coming years.

She added that only 67 litres of piped water is required to produce 1kg of beef and 49 litres for 1kg of lamb in the UK, something that contrasts with the commonly cited measurement of 16,000 litres of water needed to produce 1kg of beef.

In addition, Ms Jones also stated that livestock farming also offers much to the country in terms of value. The tourist revenue from areas where a proportion of land in maintained by beef and sheep production is estimated at £1.49m.

Ms Jones’ water figures can be further softened when one considers the usage of rainwater harvesting and rainwater storage tanks. Rainwater is ideal for usage across beef and lamb production facilities. Rainwater is chaneled from large agricultural roof areas and is stored in dedicated rainwater storage tanks. Made from a single piece of rotationally moulded, UV-stabilised polyethylene, the rainwater tanks keep their contents in ideal conditions until it is needed for cleaning purposes and for watering cattle.

Topics: Water
Tags: Biodiversity | gas | greenhouse gas emissions | rainwater harvesting | water
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