Rationing comments provoke NFU anger

The deputy president of the National Farmers' Union (NFU) has hit out at environment minister Ben Bradshaw over comments about rationing food.

The deputy president of the National Farmers' Union (NFU) has hit out at environment minister Ben Bradshaw over comments that food production is damaging the environment so much we might need to return to rationing.

Meurig Raymond told MTJ: "I was quite outraged when I picked up on those comments. There is an issue around carbon emissions and climate change but it is a global issue and not just a UK issue and to single out the UK livestock industry, that was grossly unfair for a minister [to do that] in my opinion."

Bradshaw's comments emerged last week during a discussion about sustainability and the environment. He said food production does as much damage as cars and housing.

"If the impacts of climate change are as bad as predicted, we may need to go back to rationing," Bradshaw said. "I do not think one should underestimate the speed at which developments are going to take place on climate change when we get enough political consensus."

His comments have been linked with a new government website called the Greener Guide to Living, which states "the production of meat and dairy products has a much bigger effect on climate change and other environmental impacts than that of most grains, pulses and outdoor fruit and vegetables."

Raymond hit back: "I believe we do not wish to belong to a nanny state. I think the majority of the population wants to be able to choose their diet. We've seen an increase in red meat consumption so let's look at solutions, rather than trying to deny society food of its choice."

A Defra spokesperson said: "We are not by any means telling people to cut out meat, this would be a personal decision. We are giving them the facts.

"We welcome the positive response of the NFU, and others in the industry, who recognise the threats posed by climate change and the potential to contribute to being part of the solution through, for example, the development of anaerobic digestion, that is using farm waste as a renewable fuel source."

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