A Sussex pasture: the Hook & Son dairy herd on Pevensey Levels ((c) Emli Bendixen)
By Jill Goulder of TTL
I offer this Guardian piece about cattle in the confident hope of calm, constructive and balanced comment from the Transition Town Lewes readership: British farmers are not the enemy in the battle against the climate crisis
The writer, a Leicestershire cattle-farmer, asks to put the other point of view to the common environmental argument that ‘switching to a “plant-based diet” is necessary to avert climate disaster.’ He points out that UK pasture (70% of UK farmland, largely land unsuitable for crops) is a major player in absorption of CO2, and an exceptionally good haven for biodiversity (including the insects essential to our agriculture). He argues that it is unjust to British farmers to generalise from self-evidently awful environmental crashes such as Brazilian rainforest clearance for cattle and grain production.
I was partly brought up in Argentina, where the pampas is an ideal environment for ranched cattle but unsuitable for crops, and I’ve always hoped for more understanding of different situations worldwide. There’s the separate issue of water use of crops (almonds, avocados, soy), while Stanley argues that ‘85% of the water consumed by our sheep and cattle falls as rain on our abundant grass – which our temperate climate is perfectly suited to growing. This grass constitutes 90% of the feed consumed by our cattle and sheep’.
I do know well that there are MANY worthwhile arguments in favour of eating less meat; but I do hope that we can keep at least some of our pastures in the UK.
Hook & Son‘s dairy farm near Hailsham ((c) Corin and Hewitt))