A robust defence of Scottish farming’s environmental credentials, coupled with a new campaign to highlight the hugely positive steps being undertaken by Scottish red meat producers to reduce and offset emissions, has been launched by the ANM Group, the farming co-operative based at Thainstone.

In the run up to COP26 and in discussions in and around the global event, there has been heightened focus on the part that farming operations play in increasing emissions and their part in looming global temperature rises and other major environmental risks.

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In launching its campaign, ANM is set to stand up for their huge member and client base and illustrate that the vast confidence and success in the Scottish red meat sector is built upon farming systems that are sustainable, traceable, and rich in environmental provenance.

Grant Rogerson, chief executive of ANM Group, said: “The entire rural economy of Scotland depends on the continuing success of our industry, including our red meat sector – this debate is the front-line in securing a sustainable farming sector for future generations.

“As a group, ANM is determined to do everything necessary to stand up for the sector. Like many of our members, ANM has been frustrated by a series of ill-informed reports and misinformation about the impact of livestock farming on the environment.

“As one of the largest co-operatives in the UK, we have ethical and sustainable operations in our DNA, and a responsibility to do everything necessary to support our members when they face inaccurate criticism.

“We aim to support all efforts to reduce climate change – that is at the core of our co-operative values – but we can and should do so without negatively impacting on one of Scotland’s great success stories –our red meat production and the thousands of livelihoods that depend on it.”

Mr Rogerson has sought to counter claims on the relative impact of emissions release from Scottish red meat farming operations – which he says is one of the more sustainable primary industries on the planet – highlighting that livestock production accounts for less that 6% of the UK’s net carbon emissions, compared to 27% caused by transport and 21% by power generation and supply.

“Too often, Scottish red meat production is misrepresented as a heavy emitter to global emissions, when in fact, this is simply not the case,” he continued.

“Unlike other parts of the world where livestock is farmed intensively, Scottish livestock production actively manages carbon outputs by utilising sustainable grazing systems and offsetting on-farm emissions with other positive climate actions on the land. It is a shocking misrepresentation to suggest that statistics on, for example, intensive livestock production units in the USA are in any way representative of our carbon footprint.

“In Scotland, some 85% of the agricultural land is best suited to grazing livestock. A flourishing livestock sector is vital to keeping this land in active environmental management – without it, our grasslands would grow rank and the crop-growing sectors of Scottish agriculture would also lose out.

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“Instead of advocating reduced red meat consumption, we should be making the case for a transfer of consumption from carbon intensive foreign production to Scottish produce founded on high environmental standards.

“Scottish red meat is the green alternative to sourcing from outwith our country and off-shoring the problem.”

The campaign is set to be continued into and through ANM’s 150th anniversary year, and will include work to promote members’ interests through the media and in discussions with politicians on all sides.