Glen Tyrrell writing in the Otago Daily Times
A national tragedy is occurring and no-one seems aware it is destroying our farming communities and will ultimately do major damage to our economy.
The media have mostly accepted Government spin that farmers are damaging our environment, our planet and our international brand reputation.
It is no wonder consumers are confused and also believe farmers are responsible for global warming when, in New Zealand, nothing could be further from the truth.
In 2006, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) produced a report that determined livestock and meat production contributed to 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GGGE), the same amount as transport.
In 2009, the FAO admitted it had overstated the impact of meat and revised it down to 14%. It also admitted it had used different methodology and under-calculated the full impact of transport which also incorrectly inflated the impact of meat production.
It is hard to un-ring the bell, and the incorrect information has been commonly misused to undermine our farming communities and the natural grass-fed free range production systems that provide nutritious single-source proteins essential for a healthy diet.
New Zealand produces far more food than we consume and most of our meat is exported, hence our carbon footprint per capita for food production is high relative to that of other countries.
New Zealand is responsible for 0.16% of GGGE. Of this, half is from agriculture (0.08%) and of that, half is from dairy farming. Meat production and all other agriculture — including crops and horticulture — contributes 0.04% of GGGE.
The truth is New Zealand red meat production has such a small impact on the planet that whatever we do makes no difference.