Brazilian farming industry-a defence

Robert Forster of the National Beef Association makes a passing reference to Brazilian beef, with the usual disparaging remarks on rainforest destruction and abuse of labour (Talking Point, 24 November).

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“The fact is that even if the Brazilians were not to cut another tree in the Amazon rainforest, there is the potential for enormous expansion of their beef industry on land that is already under cultivation.

Indeed, it could be argued that this could be environmentally beneficial in areas where there is vast monoculture of crops such as soyabean and cotton. The presence of livestock may arrest declining fertility.

As regards “labour abuse”, I know which I would prefer if the choice was between working as a “cowboy” on a large Brazilian ranch or milking cows in mid-winter in the UK.

The Brazilians have excellent slaughter facilities and are working hard to improve their traceability. Disease prevention measures are good and it is on their borders, away from the main beef production areas, that the main risks occur which they are doing their best to minimise.

I get extremely annoyed about some of the myths that are spread about British farming, so I believe that it is important we should be careful about our comments in relation to producers elsewhere, even if they are competitors.

Farmers the world over face similar problems and it is surely more advantageous to close ranks and talk to each other rather than be hypocritical ourselves. After all, did our ancestors not clear the forests of this country many years ago?

Tim Roberts

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