Reading Time: 2 minutes They're also backing a reduction in demand for 'cheap, high-calorie junk food' Credit: Adobe. Do not use without permission.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Farmers are backing calls to curb meat consumption in the UK following a major report released last month.

The National Food Strategy, which outlines how to improve health and protect the environment made headlines for setting the target to lower intake by 30 percent.

Now, senior farming figures are writing to Secretary of State George Eustice to implement the report’s suggestions.

Farmers join meat curb calls

In an open letter, the Chief Executive of the Food, Farming, and Countryside Commission (FFCC) joined a consortium of farmers urging senior politicians to take on board the report’s recommendations.

“…There are also recommendations that might make less comfortable reading for us, but which nevertheless deserve our firm backing. 

“They are of course about eating less meat. This is such a sensitive issue, especially when UK livestock farmers are already committed to high welfare and reducing climate impacts. But as anyone who has looked seriously at the numbers knows…the reality is that people in developed countries do need to eat less meat overall.”

Reformed food system

Among calls for limited meat consumption, the report – led by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) board member Henry Dimbleby is a tax on sugar and salt.

The FFCC backed calls to help reduce demand for ‘cheap, high-calorie junk food’ and champion healthy produce instead.

This seems to already be in line with the government’s view. For example, bans on adverts promoting ‘junk food‘ post-watershed are set to be implemented by the end of 2022.

Moreover, it followed concerns about rising obesity and the pressure it puts on the NHS. ‘Let’s get a grip on it’, Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed.

A ‘fair switch’

Additionally, the farmers expressed how the transition to a new food system – championing plant-based foods – must be done ‘fairly’ and quickly.

However, they did profess that ‘imported proteins’ can drive deforestation. Though it is unclear whether this is specifically directed at plant-based proteins in particular. Or, at soy production as feed for livestock in the mass-produced industry.

This is rhetoric often pushed by farmers to avoid their part in accelerating climate change.

For example, BBC Presenter and farmer Adam Henson recently deplored almond milk and avocados as ‘disastrous’ for the environment. Instead, people should drink locally produced cow’s milk, he claimed.

Despite this, it’s clear attitudes are changing. The farmers signing the letter are from various different bodies: from the Soil Association to Common Land and The Game & Wildlife Trust.

Health and environmental concerns

The report calls for schools and hospitals to serve both less, and ‘better’ meat, of which the farmers also backed.

Moreover, ‘biggest businesses should show leadership by reporting what they sell, and how it is produced’. This indicates greater transparency across an industry known for keeping its practices under wraps.

Additionally, the farmers were clear in demands for clarity. This is in reference to land needed for nature restoration and protecting the rights of rural farmers.

Moreover, they called for ‘the best results’ for climate, nature, and animal welfare.

You can read the letter in full here

Emily is a News and Features Writer for Plant Based News. She has previously worked as a journalist in Devon, UK, reporting on local issues from politics to the environment.