When I read “The price of meat” in our local paper the other week, I wondered about dignifying it with response. Sometimes, you are better to ignore nonsense, and concentrate on what you do, and doing it well. However, I find I sleep better once I said what needs to be said.
Those of you that know me will notice the lack of swearing and general grumpiness in my response – I was writing for a newspaper audience and didn’t want to offend anyone. I’d also have liked to put in links to different research but I had a word (and time) limit.
But this is what is important:
There is a small but fervent group of people that want to see the end of farming animals, and they certainly won’t let facts get in the way of their mission, nor do they stop to fully comprehend the implications to our health, the environment, our communities, and our economy. Its important to consistently point out when their facts and messages are wrong.
I should be finishing my end of year accounts, getting ready for shearing, and grubbing thistles, however Chrstine Rose’s column (31st October) warrants rebuff.
As a politician, Christine should well know that pasture based farming in New Zealand simply doesn’t align with overseas reports based on completely different production systems.
All food has environmental impact, so unless you can live on fresh air, what you eat will affect something, somewhere. Currently in NZ we are transitioning from the most profitable use of land, into a model where we better match land capability with growing the right food on it (and make a profit). Climate change, water, biodiversity and soil is important to us and our customers, and it’s an exciting time to be in the food sector.
If Christine was truly worried about the environment, she would have mentioned the overwhelming environmental impact of rice, whose methane production is over 10% of agricultural emissions and comes with a host of other impacts, and the almond industry in California, which has devastated the water quality in that State. Instead, she focuses on meat, and not even how we produce meat in NZ.
NZ beef and lamb greenhouse gas emissions have reduced by 30% since 1990, whilst still producing the same amount of meat, and doubling its export value. That’s something she could have mentioned in her column.
Our pasture-based production systems mean that almost no other country in the world can produce meat with such a low energy footprint. Even taking into account shipping, the footprint of producing lamb in NZ and sending it to the UK is less than the footprint of producing that lamb in Britain. She could have mentioned that too!
NZ’s actual greenhouse emissions are tiny compared to most nations.
The information in the study Christine refers to, ‘Livestock’s Long Shadow’ was retracted by the scientists that wrote it, when they realised that they had miscalculated and underestimated transport’s contribution to greenhouse gases. Energy remains the biggest threat to limiting climate change, yet our super power countries seem unwilling to solve it.
Christine also applauds vegetarians and vegans for reducing the suffering of animals. My sheep and cattle have a great life with all their health and well-being needs met, as they do on my neighbours. Better than the health and wellbeing of many humans, and certainly better than the life and death of a wild animal. Don’t forget that hundreds of thousands of mice, frogs, rabbits, and other animals die to produce your veges, fruit, and bread too. Food production results in death. By all means, go and reduce the suffering of wild animals, however, I’ve got mine sorted, thanks.
And if its health that Christine was most worried about, then getting rid of the processed crap (including processed meat) in your diet and amping up your vegetables is where it’s at. Quality animal protein on top of a plate full of fresh vegetables – fantastic for your energy levels and your mental health.
The sheep and beef farmers that I work with are certainly focused on a sector that produces protein that is good for the environment, good for the animals, and good for you.