In two linked podcasts, Andrew Green, a solicitor from the law firm Everys which has offices in South-West England, talks to Michael Lee, Head of Sustainable Agriculture Sciences at Rothamsted Research’s North Wyke site in Devon and Professor of Sustainable Livestock Systems at Bristol University. Against the background of the Agriculture Bill, which proposes sweeping changes to UK agricultural support and practice, the two interviews cover the role of grass and grazing livestock in sustainable agriculture, and the specific role of dairy farming and of dairy produce in human nutrition.

Over the last year, a large number of reports have pointed a finger at meat production and dairy farming as major causes of global warming and environmental degradation. It’s not always possible in these reports to distinguish between ideology and science, but the Sustainable Food Trust recognises the problems associated with intensive livestock farming and with growing global consumption of livestock products. Recommendations generally focus more on beef and lamb than on chicken and pork, but there are widespread concerns that many researchers fail to take a balanced look at all the issues before drawing their conclusions.

The topic is complex and the science is actually still emerging, but a particular question is how these issues relate to a country like the UK, where the climate and soil types are ideal for growing grass, but less suited to crop production? Professor Lee’s expertise and experience bring valuable new insights and understanding. This is an issue we will inevitably return to in the future.

The Sustainable Food Trust would like to thank Andrew Green for carrying out these interviews and to Everys for making his time available and kindly allowing us to publish the podcasts. Further interviews by Andrew Green on the UK’s only oak bark tannery and the problems facing small abattoir owners are under preparation.

Part One

Part Two

Photograph: Franco Lautieri

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