I’ve received a directive from Defra telling me that the government has decreed that farmers must reduce green house gas emissions, ‘to at least 6% lower than currently predicted by 2020’. As the, ‘currently predicted’ figure isn’t stated the directive is meaningless but they say that agriculture is responsible for 7% of total emissions and that methane (which cows emit) is 25 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. This coincides with Lord Stern’s call for us all to give up eating meat (and presumably say good bye to wool and leather) to save the planet.
This leaves farmers such as me feeling a grave sense of injustice. My cows and sheep graze on pasture which is unsuitable for growing crops. As Graham Harvey established in his book, ‘The Carbon Fields’ grazing permanent pasture with ruminants is actually an overall carbon ‘sink’ because of the vast root structure below ground which takes up carbon efficiently when they are grazed hard. And if there were no animals on this land it would revert to brambles and bracken and the landscape would be destroyed.