Agriculture – the villain or the hero?
By far and large, farming and food production is more under the spotlight than ever before.
Now we have social media at our ever-increasing disposal, never have the voices of anyone and everyone been so available to hear. The average person spends 144 minutes every day participating on social media.
With that, thousands of claims are being circulated and consumed every day – the good, the bad, and the sometimes ugly. But more pertinently – a mass volume of claims that are both correct and incorrect – with a lean towards the latter.
With even the experts disagreeing – how do we know who and what to believe? How do we know our choices are the right ones for us, our planet, and all things living?
Environmental Impacts Of British Farming
British farmers care for the environment they manage
Around 70% of a typical British cattle herd’s diet is grass. And 65% of British farmland used for meat and dairy production is unsuitable for growing crops for human consumption. If permanent pasture were ploughed up for such crops, huge volumes of carbon dioxide would be released into the atmosphere. Animals also provide us with the organic matter needed to maintain soil health.
Here are some of the benefits that British farmers bring to the environment:
- Farmers look after 71% of Britian’s iconic landscape, habitat and wildlife species.
- More than 30,000KM of hedgerows have been planted or restored by British farmers.
- British farmers have planted 10,000 pitches worth of wildlife habitat.
- 6% of cattle and sheep diets are by-products of human food production.
- Sheep in wool locks-in carbon equal to the emissions from 10,000 family cars.
- Farming accounts for 10% of greenhouse gases in the U.K. – 17% less than transport.
- Farmers are committed to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.
- Greenhouse gas emissions from British beef is almost half the global average.
Standards of Welfare in British Farming
British farming upholds the highest animal welfare standards
British farms produce 61% of the nation’s food to some of the highest welfare standards in the whole world. Food marked with the Red Tractor (pictured right), has been independently certified as produced to health and welfare standards prescribed by British Farm Assurance Schemes.
Here’s some of the standards that British farmers are proud to adhere to:
- Growth-promoting hormones are NOT permitted in U.K. meat and dairy production.
- British chickens enjoy over 28% more space than is required by European legislation.
- A third of sows in the U.K. are reared outdoors. Sow stalls were banned in 1999.
- Hot branding and mulesing are both illegal practices in the U.K.
- The UK banned the keeping of laying hens in battery cages in January 2012.
- CCTV is mandatory in all U.K. slaughter houses.
- The UK is the fifth lowest user of on-farm antibiotics across 31 European countries.
The Nutritional Value of British Farm produce
Currently, enjoyed by 91% of households in the U.K., red meat is one of the richest sources of essential nutrients for bodily function – protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins.
Red meat now has much lower fat contents than it did 20 years ago, with fully trimmed lean beef containing just 5% fat.
Dairy products derived from cows’ milk – are a complete food source – richer in protein, calcium and vitamin D than current alternatives.
Milk is also a good source of both saturated and unsaturated fats linked to increasing the levels of good cholesterol.
Milk is also rich in potassium, which can help to regulate blood pressure.
Here’s some news stories from the national media:
6 top tips for consumers seeking to make a difference
- Build your meals around the current seasons, choosing British fruit and vegetables that have travelled less miles to reach your plate.
- When doing your research or if you stumble across something on social media, check the reliability and origin of the source, and cross reference with other independent bodies.
- Visit your local farm shop and speak with your local farmer to get a real feel for the work that goes into producing your food.
- When shopping, look first for the Red Tractor logo to ensure the produce has been reared to our high British standards.
- Carefully plan your food shops to minimise any food waste, and meal plan to make something from your leftovers.
- Share that you care! Every time you make a meal from local food that you’re proud of, share a picture on social media and tag #BackBritishFarming.
Farming influencers that are worth following
Lee Gate Farm
Malhamdale, North Yorkshire Family farm since 1927 Native breed cattle and sheep AONB, HLS, SSSI and Farm assured
Higher House Farm
HigherHouse Pedigree Belted Galloways. BlackStar Pedigree Suffolks. Ribble Valley – Lancashire
Personal Blog, Dairy Farmer
NFU Student and Young Farmer Ambassador 2022
Family farm in West Berks since 1969. Vineyard est 2021
Home to Park Farm Mookshake Shack! Farm fresh milk and milkshakes! Family run. Free range Dairy Farm. Lancashire
Cumbria, Townie > Shepherd, Occasional TV, Sunday Times Best Seller – Call Me Red, Public Speaker
Farming in the lake District
Photographer / Shepherdess
Liscabank pedigree holsteins. Dairy farming. Family dairy farm. Lancashire
Farming in the heart of the Ribble Valley. Living life to the fullest
Family run dairy farm in Lancashire, England.
Phil Taylor Farming
Passionate about farming for the future, keep farming going in move with the times and keep moving forward as hard as it may be at times!
Hull House Farm
North Yorkshire. Lleyns, Texel x Lleyns, Greyface Dartmoors. Belted Galloways. Working Sheepdogs. Self catered holiday cottages.
Tom Carlisle, Dales Farmer
5th generation Sheep + beef farmer. Sustainable agriculture. Farm life. Yorkshire Dales
Horse-shoeing. Farming. Working dogs. Outdoors. Explorer. Making the most out of what life has to offer. Farrier based in Cumbria.
Family Sheep Farm. Flock of Commercial Sheep & Pedigree Beltex. Heifer Rearing. Chipping, Lancashire
Lake District Farming
Farm manager in the Lake District. YouTube channel Lake District farming. Never dream to big, always drive for more. Just living the dream.
Small time shepherdess following a dream. 1st generation sheep farmer. Lancashire.
Old Hall Farm
Jersay Cows, Milk & Butter. Farm Shop
Can’t put into words how much I have loved farming my hill farm in the Lake District so going to try and do it with pictures
Lyme House Holsteins
Life at Lyme House Farm. Dairy farming and the Lyme House herd of Pedigree Holsteins. Ribble Valley
A Farmer making videos. BBC Three presenter of the Fast & Farmer(ish)
Calling proud farmers to share stories!
At Carr’s Billington, we want to showcase the brilliant work our farmers do to feed and support the nation. #Proud2Farm is a social media campaign designed to do just this.
From the 1 June 2022, we are asking farmers to:
- Post a 20 second video showing how or why you’re a proud farmer via a post or reel, onto Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or TikTok
- Use the hashtag #Proud2Farm
- Tag @Carr’sBillington
- Nominate a friend to do the same within 24hrs
In return, we will:
- Pledge a donation for every video, up to the first 500 posted, in aid of the Farm Safety Foundation
- Give away a £250 Carr’s Billington store voucher for the top video creator during June!