NFU20: Myth-busting toolkit helps farmers tackle bad press

The NFU has equipped farmers with a myth-busting fact sheet on livestock and the environment to help them push back against misconceptions about the industry.

Rethinking Ruminants was launched at the NFU conference in Birmingham on Tuesday (25 February) alongside a shorter booklet aimed at consumers that highlights the importance of red meat and dairy products as part of a balanced diet.

See also: NFU20: British farm standards must not be undermined

The booklets come as farmers report feeling hurt and demoralised by the anti-meat agenda that has labelled them the problem and not part of the solution to mitigating climate change.

NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes said: “We’ve been constantly under attack and felt, as the joint livestock and dairy board, it was time to do something about it and give our members some hard facts to use.

“It is giving members the tools and facts that they won’t get pulled apart on. We can stand behind everything in there.”

The document is available online for NFU members and Mr Oakes urged them to use it as a tool to tell the “fabulous story” of the British livestock industry.

The NFU said it would look at using a version of the fact sheet in schools to continue its drive to reconnect children with rural life and increase their awareness of farming and the field-to-fork journey.

Rethinking Ruminants toolkit: what it contains

The NFU’s Rethinking Ruminants document aims to support members to tell a positive story of their hard work and the high standards within the British dairy and livestock sectors.

The 32-page directory is crammed with science- and evidence-based information, myth-busting facts and infographics.

It includes key messages farmers can tell the public about British farming and its impact on the environment and climate change, high animal and welfare standards, as well as its contribution to health and nutrition.

Some of the more eye-catching facts included in the toolkit:

  • Agriculture is responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the UK
  • British beef has a GHG footprint 2.5 times lower than the global average
  • 98% of British households choose dairy products and red meat as a rich source of essential nutrients including iron, zinc and B vitamins
  • Farmers produce renewable energy that helps power an average of 10 million homes
  • In 2017 there were 35,000 green schemes in place with farmers in England to boost biodiversity and enhance the environment.

The document also contains some valuable advice to help livestock and dairy farmers engage with the public and decision-makers about livestock farming.

The tips include:

  • Invite people on to the farm – this could be through Open Farm Sunday, or just a small group of visitors
  • Set up a social media account for your farm, post images, share videos and tag your local MP
  • Invite your MP, local councillors or VIPs to visit your farm
  • Engage in a Leaf Farmer Time initiative and/or write in your local parish or area magazine.