Climate focus on agriculture worries West Norfolk farmer
A West Norfolk farmers’ leader has claimed calls for a reduction in meat consumption, following a new climate change report, are focusing on the wrong target.
Environmental campaigners say research by a UN intergovernmental panel shows the need to move towards more plant-based diets and cut the amount of land used for meat production.
But Ed Lankfer, chairman of the National Farmers’ Union’s Downham and Southery branch, claimed such calls overestimated the environmental impact.
He pointed out that research shows emissions from cars can remain in the atmosphere for more than 10 times longer than methane emitted from animals.
And he said: “Nobody is suggesting that we all walk to work, are they? I’m concerned we are being led down the wrong path.”
Dr Catherine Rowett, the Green Party’s MEP for the East of England, said the report was a “dire warning” of the need for radical measures to reduce the threat of rising temperatures.
She has called for an end to intensive chicken and pig farming in the region and claims its wider food production industry was at particular risk from inaction.
She said: “If we can move away from meat-based diets and reduce the amount of land we use to feed chickens and pigs, we could free up large areas for nature, which is essential for reducing the alarming rate of global heating and for protecting valuable wildlife.
“Moving to a more plant-based and more local diet could help feed more people, with less waste, and improve people’s health.”
Dr Rowett has also called for taxes to be levied on foods deemed to be environmentally damaging, such as red meat.
She added: “We should focus on moving to a way of life that is within the limits of what the earth can sustain while supporting local farmers.”
But NFU bosses have voiced their frustration at what they claim have been “inflated” reporting of the panel’s findings.
They argue that reducing carbon emissions should not mean cutting farming production.
And Mr Lankfer says he is worried that businesses, including his own, could potentially be put at risk.
He said: “I have just short of 2,000 pigs here. We have all got to eat. Without the animals, I might not be here.
“With Brexit on the horizon, that could well be the final nail in the coffin.”