A report calling for a sharp reduction in livestock numbers to help combat climate change and improve the nation’s diet has been prompting discussion online among farmers.

Farming organisations have been quick to condemn the report as simplistic and ill-informed.

On the FWi forums there has been a mix of anger and bemusement.

“Whether you have Afghan goats turning sparse vegetation into good quality protein for humans or a Friesian cow grazing in Carmarthenshire, at the end of the day there are huge chunks of land around the globe where it’s physically impossible and economically unviable to grow crops,” said JD Driver.

“On the other hand these areas are able to grow grass. Through the process of photosynthesis we are utilising the free solar power that falls upon these vast areas, and using the ruminant’s ability to convert something that we can’t eat, into something that has more essential amino acids than we care to imagine. In my mind this is efficient!”

This sentiment was echoed by Andy H who said: “If these researchers studied the symbiotic relationships between the grazing animal and the plants they feed on, they would realise there is a cycle whereby the animal wastes are utilised by the next generation of forage plants, unlike the emissions from fossil fuels.

“It is this cycle that maintained the vast herds of wild ruminants for millions of years without human ‘management’.

“While emissions from intensive units are more concentrated, the same principle applies, the waste products are derived from the feed, and return to the vegetation both cultivated and natural.

“With the increasing interest in utilising the methane for generating electricity, this renewable resource will become an asset rather than a pollutant.”

Are you fed up of agriculture being the scapegoat for climate change? What do you think is the solution? Share you thoughts.