Letter to Oxfordshire Council about plan to ban meat and dairy from Council events

Thursday, 10 February 2022

A letter from AHDB CEO, Tim Rycroft, to Oxfordshire County Council in response to a proposed plan to ban meat and dairy from Council events.

Letter to Councillor Liz Leffman

Leader, Oxfordshire County Council

10 February 2022

Dear Councillor Leffman,

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) sympathises with your efforts to reduce emissions and tackle climate change.

AHDB is an independent evidence-based arms-length government body representing levy payers in the beef and lamb, pork, dairy and cereals and oilseeds sectors – many of whom are based within your county. We feel basing your intention to provide vegan-only food at meetings and events and put more plant-based meals on school menus on the fact global meat and dairy production is a “significant contributor” to greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation fails to reflect the impact of livestock production here in the UK.

The UN’s FAO report from 2013 is commonly cited by organisations including governments and the media, with a global figure for emissions from livestock of 14.5%. However, the most accurate figure for the UK, in line with the Paris Accord, is 6%.

The carbon footprint of milk produced in the UK is nearly a third lower than the global average.

Farmers are committed to doing their bit and understand the role they have in helping to cut the UK’s carbon emissions. That’s why they’re focusing on the journey to net zero by 2050.

It is also worth noting 65 per cent of our agricultural land in the UK is grassland and meadows, unable to support food crops but ideal for grazing animals. The way farmers use this land for grazing livestock, such as cattle and sheep, means they can produce good-quality nutritious food while also maintaining the land for nature, providing wildlife with habitats, food sources and shelter.

Our We Eat Balanced campaign also highlights the role meat and dairy can play as part of a healthy, balanced diet. They both contain vitamin B12, an essential nutrient not naturally present in foods of plant origin.

We understand the Council’s Cabinet will be meeting to consider the measures for approval on 15th March and hope they will consider the points we have raised.

Yours sincerely,
Tim Rycroft
Chief Executive