Stop blaming meat for climate issues says GrassFed founder

One of the founders of an initiative to improve understanding between farmers and non-farmers has blasted media outlets for misrepresenting the latest findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Ahuroa sheep and beef farmer Nicky Berger, who co-founded GrassFed in the City, says the latest IPCC report, Climate Change and Land, released last month has insisted that to minimise climate change, it is essential to switch to diets with less processed food and much higher levels of fruit and veggies, and low-carbon produced meats.

“Afterwards, I saw six different articles in national and international media that edited out the ‘low-carbon meat’ section of that statement,” she says.

Ms Berger says meat is being made the scapegoat for climate change problems because it is an easier target than major contributors such as the use of fossil fuels.

“I’m fascinated that this is happening to such a great extent in the media, and I think there are some definite opportunities to remind people of the low carbon methods of rearing sheep and cattle, in particular, in New Zealand, compared to the rest of the world,” she says.

Ms Berger says New Zealand meat production has a low carbon footprint for a variety of reasons, including the year-round grass feeding of sheep and the limited use of grains to feed animals, unlike elsewhere in the world.

Other factors include the high numbers of trees on New Zealand beef and sheep farms, the minimal use of antibiotics, rotational grazing and the comprehensive strategy of Beef + Lamb NZ – an industry organisation that represents farmers – to ensure farming here is undertaken in the most environmentally responsible way.

“We can actually get New Zealand lamb transported to England and the total overall carbon involved in producing that lamb is less than what it costs for the English to produce lamb in their own country,” she says.