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Livestock farming will be dead in Wales within a few years, says environmentalist

29 Apr 2024 8 minute read
Photo Hywel Morgan

Martin Shipton

Significant changes in eating habits will inevitably lead to the demise of livestock farming in Wales, according to one of the nation’s leading environmentalists.

Gareth Clubb, director of WWF Cymru, has made the claim in a personal blog post written in Welsh under his social media name Naturiaethwr (Naturalist).

After listing existing challenges including the high prices of energy, fuel, food, medicines and veterinary costs, he focusses on the way consumer demand for meat is declining.

Young people

He writes: “Eating patterns are gradually changing away from meat and towards alternative high-protein foods produced using plants or micro-mushrooms; 58% of the population have taken steps to reduce or stop eating meat, although some have resumed eating it.

“In Wales, 29% of the population have stopped eating meat, or eat less of it. Young people are much more likely to be vegetarians or vegans than older people – 24% of those aged 18-24 compared to 4% of those aged over 65.

“The price of alternative foods is an important factor, as it competes on price for the same buyers. After all, 44% of people believe that the price of alternative foods is currently too high. But where the price of meat is volatile, the price of food from plants falls quickly; in the Netherlands it has been cheaper than meat since 2022.

“The Welsh Government predicts that there will be an annual increase of 11% in the sale of these foods during the period 2019 to 2030, and this increase will completely replace the fall in eating red meat. “Plant milk sales were 7% of the milk market in the UK in 2022, with growth of 24% over the two years to 2022. And for those who claim that a product ‘like meat’ will not be acceptable to most customers, note a taste test where 67% of customers preferred fake chicken nuggets to meat chicken nuggets. All this is clearly a challenge for the livestock industry in terms of the domestic market; we can assume that this pattern will be very similar in the larger market in England.”

Intensive farming

Mr Clubb argues that the problems caused by the intensive farming industry for the environment and society generally are currently tolerated because governments of all kinds prioritise the availability of food at a low cost.

Yet there are health costs for the individual from eating too much meat – increased risk of obesity, heart disease, inflammation of the lungs, bowel cancer and diabetes – which in turn cause a high cost to the health service, not to mention the impact on the individual and the family. And there are environmental costs, especially from intensive farming, including river pollution, air pollution, greenhouse gases, resistance to antibiotics, as well as the impact on the welfare of the animals themselves.

He writes: “But I suspect there is an even bigger threat on the horizon, with the ability to bring the livestock industry in Wales – and the rest of the world – to its knees. A serious threat to the viability of the livestock sector in Wales are technologies that will produce foods ‘like meat’ at a much cheaper price than the livestock industry can produce real meat.

“According to RethinkX [a think tank that analyses the impacts of technological change], the price of producing a kilogram of molecules by precision fermentation fell from $1m in 2000, to around $100 in 2019. It is predicted that the price will drop below $10 per kilogram by 2025, partly due to the huge investment in this area – $7bn by the end of 2022, with more than half of that investment in the two years 2021 and 2022.

“As a result, protein molecules produced by precision fermentation will compete with protein produced from animals by 2023-25, and the cost will fall to just 20% of the cost of meat production by 2030. By 2030, RethinkX predicts that 90% of milk protein and cheese in the USA will be produced by precision fermentation. 55% of beef will be produced in the same way by 2030, and the number of cows will have decreased by 50% by the same year as a result. You can argue over the exact year that the price of a product ‘like meat’ will compete with the price of meat, but it is harder to argue with the price trend.

“And although cattle will be affected first, the same processes will affect every single meat sector, including sheep, chickens, fish and shellfish. Ultimately, says RethinkX: ‘all industrial agribusinesses are fickle and inefficient with low profits, and all will go out of business due to high production costs and reduced demand for their products’.”

‘Inevitable demise’

Mr Clubb asks what this will mean for the livestock sector in Wales? He responds: “An inevitable demise. By 2030, says RethinkX, there will be no money in the dairy or beef sectors. The chicken, pig and fish sectors will follow quickly – we can assume that the sheep sector will also follow the same path. The businesses that supply the livestock industries will also suffer, including feed crops, slaughterhouses and processors of meat, milk and cheese. The land currently used for grazing animals will no longer be used. It follows that there will be a significant fall in the value of farmland – a fall of 40-80%, according to RethinkX.

“The implications in Wales are so much more profound than they are in England. A higher percentage of people in Wales work in the agricultural sector, so livelihoods will be affected to a much greater extent. The livestock sector dominates agriculture in Wales, with 86% of agricultural land being grazing land. And subsidies cover 67% of the income of these farms. 43% of the sector’s employees are Welsh speakers, a very high percentage compared to the general population (19%). And most farms in Wales are small farms, with 55% under 20ha.

“These patterns of ownership, demographics and language mean that Welsh farms are absolutely central to the Welsh language and rural culture in the country. And if we don’t want to see the industry fall off a cliff, with huge negative implications for the social, economic and linguistic fabric of our rural areas, and indeed the country, we must prepare now for the future that is busy coming to us.”

High price

He states it is possible that a percentage of the farming businesses will continue to produce meat: “They will be the farms that have the highest standards in terms of animal welfare and meat quality, because they will supply the restaurants and butchers providing meat for those who are willing to pay the very high price for the product. It is quite possible that the survivors will be the organic farms that follow a nature-friendly path.

“Others – where the soil allows – will move to produce crops, fruit and vegetables. After all, only a quarter of the daily portion of vegetables and fruit is grown in Wales for the people of our country, and that on 0.1% of the country’s land. In order to provide the five daily portions needed for healthy living, it would be necessary to increase the land planted for fruit and vegetables to approximately 2%.

“But the only possibility of staying on the land for the greater part of farming families is to diversify, and that urgently. Some will choose to cater for tourism – after all, there will be a great deal more wildlife to be found as the countryside starts to re-forest naturally. The rivers will flow unpolluted in the waters above the sewerage pipes, as a result of the tremendous reduction in agricultural waste. Others will provide business plans for renewable energy infrastructure on their land. And as a matter of urgency, the Welsh Government should provide support for this absolutely essential diversification to take place as soon as possible.

“And perhaps the Welsh Government should eye the industry ‘like meat’ as an opportunity as well as a threat. Because the people of Wales will buy their food from it, come what may. And better to raise businesses here that will produce it, rather than continuing to be completely dependent on food produced beyond our borders.

“So far Welsh universities have received £655k of funding from the Research Councils (amounting to one project at Aberystwyth University), of the £43m they distributed (which is 1.5%). And according to a report by Green Alliance, the UK Government should invest in Teesside and the “Golden Triangle” (London, Oxford and Cambridge) rather than in Wales. We are at the bottom of the heap, in terms of support from the British establishment, in this new industry.”

Mr Clubb concludes: “We have seen two very clear cases of transformation that have completely failed the workers of Wales: the communities of the coalfields, and the steel workers. There is no time to waste if we want to avoid another terrifying failure, but this time for the thousands of families that depend on the meat industries, and our rural and Welsh language society that depends on those families.”


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
23 days ago

A double whammy for our farmers, no help for the troubled from Sunak and this hyperbolic article to mull over…happy Monday (irony) even happier Thursday…

Pmb
Pmb
22 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

You should think more about the extra burdens placed on farmers by Welsh government and pressure from the eco loons who don’t appreciate knee jerk responses do more damage than help .

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
22 days ago
Reply to  Pmb

I don’t think we understand each other !

Gaynor
Gaynor
22 days ago

The only intensive farming in Wales is dairy, and has turned our meadows into a monoculture and contributed to nitrate run off which destroy our rivers. The dairy market has also succeeded in killing off smaller farms with the big players buying them up. Beef and lamb production in Wales is not intensive.

John Brooks
John Brooks
22 days ago
Reply to  Gaynor

Chicken production is intensive and pig farming is becoming more intensive.

Gaynor
Gaynor
22 days ago
Reply to  John Brooks

Granted chickens, however Not much pig farming in Wales as no profit in it and slaughtering is even more of a bureaucratic faff than for bovines. So most of our ham product comesDenmark/ north Europe. My answer is eat less meat but when I do I buy local and there are some good proper small time pork producers to be had who produce pork which tastes like pork. Same goes for lamb and beef.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
22 days ago

Martin Shipton has done us a great service by drawing our attention to this…well, an appropriate comment, horse manure.
Lots of numbers and percentages, usual stuff about how the world is changing, we’re all becoming non meat eaters (count me out), and the usual stuff about global warming.
None of this data is substantiated.

jeff lang
jeff lang
22 days ago

How about no? Despite how the media likes to paint meat and red meat in particular, it’s the healthiest food for humans. This push towards veganism, ultra processed meat substitutes and lab grown “meat” will lead to an explosion in illness & cancers. They want you sick and weak. Farmers worldwide are under attack and humanity is under threat.

hdavies15
hdavies15
22 days ago
Reply to  jeff lang

“This push towards veganism, ultra processed meat substitutes and lab grown “meat” will lead to an explosion in illness & cancers..” That’s a bit strong but your general drift is correct. My main concern is freedom of choice as we all have some dietary bias and in my case I love eating fresh veg, frozen veg, fresh fruit, meat and fish and will reject meat substitutes which as you say are ultraprocessed muck. I guess I have reduced my portion sizes due to the evident health benefits. If health is an overriding concern then it would be far more appropriate… Read more »

Alun
Alun
22 days ago
Reply to  jeff lang

I came on here to write the same thing as you.
Stick to good quality meats and stay away from vegan food.

Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
22 days ago
Reply to  jeff lang

You are deluded if you think red meat is healthy. The World Health Organisation went as far as classifying it as carcinogenic in its second highest category. Take some time to study the non-partisan independent meta analyses studies rather than spread misinformation perpetuated by the meat industry. Red meat plays a part in our biggest chronic illnesses of the day like colorectal cancer, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, stroke etc. etc.

Glen
Glen
22 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

If meat is so terrible how come the human race have survived and thrived for so long?

Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
22 days ago
Reply to  Glen

This is the latest argument and possibly the daftest of the lot that is currently being used by the beef industry. The reason why they want you arguing about this is because it is an endless rabbit hole argument. As soon as someone on the internet starts talking about what humans used to eat it is basically an admission from the off that they have lost an argument. The contemporaneous independent medical evidence overwhelmingly puts red meat as a significant health risk. But the beef industry knows it can’t go anywhere near that as it loses ten times out of… Read more »

Ann Conway
Ann Conway
22 days ago
Reply to  Glen

Agree with you.

Gaynor
Gaynor
22 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

That is UP meat. Stick to good meat and less of it. Its healthy enough

BilyBB
BilyBB
17 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

Oh well, if the world health organisation said so, it must be true!….have you learnt nothing?

adopted cardi
adopted cardi
22 days ago
Reply to  jeff lang

hello Jeff . Many – most – people I know unfortunate enough to get the cancer seem to be big meat eaters. So what would be your answer there? Am pushing 80, still eat the same way as I was brought up to do, i.e. not massive modern day portions ! Don’t eat much meat, hardly ever. So no’ a veggie. Don’t eat out much. Some days miss a meal. Still feel healthy. I weigh the same ten and a half stone as when we were married, over 50 years ago. Try and keep fit by walking or doing physical… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
22 days ago
Reply to  adopted cardi

Gluttony whether built on an excessive intake of meat or anything else, particularly booze, is a racing cert to lead to cancer or some other life threatening ailment. Meat eaten in moderation always helped on its way with fresh veg has helped me into my 70’s with relatively few issues. Indeed my only brush with major repairs was due to enjoying the ale too much in the past.

adopted cardi
adopted cardi
22 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Thanks for reply hd15. Agree with you about gluttony 1000 per cent.
Just to say the the strongest animals that walk the earth (Elephants?) don’t eat meat, as far as i know. Although they are a bit on the large side !
But I’d say that meat is a bit over rated anyway. My opinion only.
We make our own choices I guess, what seems right for either of us.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
22 days ago
Reply to  adopted cardi

I share your point about weight and hd’s past relationship with ale…

However now in my 8th decade my body is wrecked by hard labour and collisions with hard surfaces…moral: move-up a class…

Surely, this green and fertile Eden can feed us !

Ann Conway
Ann Conway
22 days ago
Reply to  jeff lang

Agree entirely. The whole global warming thing is a huge hoax. Of course meat is healthy for us and everything needs CO2 to survive.

Glen
Glen
22 days ago

Sales of vegan food is actually declining in the UK after peaking a couple of years ago.
The big 4 supermarkets have all cut the number of vegan products they offer because of poor sales.

Louise Tully
Louise Tully
22 days ago

So farming will be gone and done, and we’ll be shipping in poorer quality meat from countries with lower wellbeing standards and paying more for it. Is that what WWF Cymru is hoping will happen?

Ap Kenneth
22 days ago
Reply to  Louise Tully

No because it will equally destroy extensive and lot farming of animals as the costs will be so much lower but personally expect dairy to be the first sector to be hit hard. This is a world wide move with technology farming microbes rather than animals.
Not sure they could yet replicate a decent bacon bap.

Dai Tymawr
Dai Tymawr
22 days ago
Reply to  Louise Tully

In a nutshell, yes – and then they can get handsome rewards for operating as consultants and charitable beneficiaries in order to fulfil the ‘Good Corporate Responsibility’ requirements of the new corporate multinational Welsh Landowning class, who will be happily offsetting their carbon and biodiversity credits using land acquired through the New Clearances, whilst ensuring that the land they own keeps increasing in value underpinned by a stable currency and a mercenary London-based financial sector. The way WWF have leveraged land out of the hands of native pastoralists worldwide, and then seen it end up in the corporate claws of… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
22 days ago
Reply to  Dai Tymawr

Easy to deny your contribution as “fantasist” but the creeping developments here in Wales, just like some other parts of Europe, seem to be heading in the direction of large scale corporate/institutional ownership. The bit that shocks me, as an old style socialist, is that so many so called modern day leftists are happy to condone this kind of development as it fits in with their shallow take on what is progressive, green, diverse, inclusive and an array of other bland buzz words. Just another step on the road to serfdom.

Dai Tymawr
Dai Tymawr
22 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Well said, cytuno 100%.
Ecofeudalism and corporate foodsystem control – the shallow rabbit hole that TikTok socialists have made so comfortable for themselves that they can’t now find a way out of (but it is just so fuzzy and warm down there)

hdavies15
hdavies15
22 days ago
Reply to  Dai Tymawr

Diolch am dy gyfraniad.

Dai Tymawr
Dai Tymawr
22 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Croeso, diolch i ti

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
22 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

It has been fascinating to watch notionally left wing people end up on the same side as green washing big companies.

Mawkernewek
22 days ago
Reply to  Dai Tymawr

This is what worries me about the concept of Biodiversity Net Gain, which is a bit of a buzzword these days, the net gain presumably means it could be possible to offset something damaging wildlife habitat by buying a share in a rewilding project.

CapM
CapM
22 days ago
Reply to  Mawkernewek

From Construction Management

“Local biodiversity offsetting replaces a habitat with a new one nearby. These high-intervention approaches can require significant upfront capital costs, and it is not always easy to recreate specific habitats.” 
A less familiar, but more cost-effective and natural approach is commercial rewilding, argues Davies.
 
#https://constructionmanagement.co.uk/rewild-thing-building-biodiversity-net-gain/

An argument the family farm lobby could use to their advantage might be that people are getting unwanted developments on their doorstep because of rewilding of cheap land in Cymru.

PS diolch for the link to the original article.

Gwilym P
Gwilym P
22 days ago

Where do we start with this If there has ben an explosion of veganism in the country why are vegan restaurants closing and why was Linda McCartney’s vegan company in dire straits recently? Fake meat products may become cheaper than meat for a short time, but once all the competition, farmers is gone the companies like Nestle wil want every penny they can get. Ask some South American Countries how much they pay for their water!! If Mr Clubb took hi eye off his computer screen and looked out of the window he would see why we produce meat in… Read more »

Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
22 days ago
Reply to  Gwilym P

Because crop harvest for human food is far, far more sustainable, both economically and environmentally, than animal agriculture. Animal agriculture is incredibly unsustainable economically and is majority funded by the taxpayer. Red meat would go out of business in no time if consumers had to pay the real cost of it. It is ludicrous that the tax payer funds a food group that contributes to chronic illness and assists in swamping the health service, and uses up the vast majority of our country’s land to the detriment of the environment and its people. On a calorie for calorie basis, food… Read more »

Dai Tymawr
Dai Tymawr
22 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

“Animal agriculture is the biggest man made contribution to climate change estimated to be the cause of between 14% and 20+% of all causes.” Meaning 80%-86% is nothing at all to do with the production of food, and derives predominantly from the burning of fossil fuels (which actually *is* the biggest man made contribution to global warming, and contains no biogenic emissions that would still exist under a nonagricultural scenario, albeit accounted for on a different spreadsheet) “On a calorie for calorie basis, food from plant sources is far more nutritionally dense than animal foods, without any of the ill-health… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
22 days ago
Reply to  Dai Tymawr

.. but the guy is thrilled by the concept of tax payer funded trees. No doubt he’ll be happy eating those so he can have my share.

Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
22 days ago
Reply to  Dai Tymawr

Of course fossil fuels play a huge part and should be a headline in combating climate change, but the use of fossil fuel encompasses many different areas, including animal agriculture, and is complex to categorise. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Significantly reducing red meat agriculture is a simple win though for everyone who cares for the planet. Yes, when subsidised, farmers should be directed to harvest the most nutritional and sustainable food for the land in question. It doesn’t apply to all food groups. Red meat is inherently more expensive to produce because of the time it takes and… Read more »

Dai Tymawr
Dai Tymawr
22 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

No, I am not one of those people. The fact that you see a predominantly (at point of production) ‘global beef industry’ as a corporate monolith and the massively centralised food tech processors as advocates of a socially sustainable future however does speak volumes. You seem to utterly misunderstand the requirements of UK Organic Certification schemes (they are nothing to do with being grass fed), and you also seem to have conveniently forgotten that hay and silage exist. You also seem to misunderstand waste and byproduct streams, as well as coproducts and arable/horticultural rotations (which utilise fodder and cover crops)… Read more »

Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
22 days ago
Reply to  Dai Tymawr

Look, it isn’t personal this. I fully get that farmers and their industry must feel victimised at being told that they are destroying the planet, causing cancer and torturing animals and will obviously go into full defence mode. HOWEVER, there is too much at steak here (excuse the pun) to let misinformation go unchallenged. If you don’t believe that there is a vast beef industry that lobbies governments and spends vast sums to influence policy, then, frankly, there’s not a lot of point in you reading any further because you won’t be talked to. Did you not know that the… Read more »

Dai Tymawr
Dai Tymawr
22 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

Do you work for a pro fossil fuel lobby group? When you look at the UK/Welsh Gov stats on farm business structure in Wales and UK, and see the majority of it made up of small family business, then look at Unilever and Nestle, even you must surely realise the difference between primary producers and multinational processors? This hodgepodge of overworked farmers *is* the UK ‘beef industry’, and in comparison to the lobbying might of their corporate competitors (who are very keen on increasing their market share for heavily processed, power-dependent pseudofoods), you think pointing to a few hundred lobbyists… Read more »

Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
22 days ago
Reply to  Dai Tymawr

You’re hysterical. No, I work as an expert witness in forensic quantitative analysis. If you don’t know what that means, it means that I am appointed by the courts to give expert independent opinion. I am duty bound to be impartial. I am trained in understanding the weighting of different types of evidence, conflicts of interest and bias. Unfortunately for you, this means that I am able to fluently distinguish between the animal agriculture industry material, that will naturally hold little to no weight in terms of evidential value, and that from independent research experts who act without conflicts and… Read more »

Dai Tymawr
Dai Tymawr
21 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

Patronise much? Maybe you’d like to attach your CV to the next comments box? Don’t worry – you have ‘gone on’ plenty to assure everyone reading that your ‘impartiality’ is just a thin veneer. The rant was very true-to-trope, abjectly failed to address any of your previous inaccuracies (which I corrected), made assertions about my qualifications when you don’t even know who I am, and repeated hyperbolic and generalised claims that one would more expect to see on a ‘sponsored’ Guardian article than a nuanced discussion. Your definitions of ‘independence’ and conflicts of interest are… erm… interesting… as is your… Read more »

Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
21 days ago
Reply to  Dai Tymawr

The fact that you are hiding behind a made-up name and refuse to tell us what your commercial interests in this subject are and that I have been completely open and honest tells us a lot more about your ‘thin veneer’ than it does about me. Your comments about credibility of evidence are exactly right. If a tunnel gets damaged, get an independent engineering expert to investigate and provide expert opinion. Don’t get the expert opinion from the driver of the car who crashed into the tunnel. For the devastating environmental catastrophe being caused by animal agriculture (red meat in… Read more »

CapM
CapM
20 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

Here is the link to the 2019 Harvard study you cite. https://animal.law.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/Eating-Away-at-Climate-Change-with-Negative-Emissions%E2%80%93%E2%80%93Harwatt-Hayek.pdf The study was produced for Harvard Law School’s Animal Law & Policy Program https://animal.law.harvard.edu/ Which is -“Committed to analyzing and improving the treatment of animals through the legal system” And in 2019 launched “the Animal Law & Policy Clinic to provide students with direct hands-on experience in animal advocacy on behalf of farmed animals, wildlife, animals used in research, entertainment, and in other forms of captivity, using strategies including litigation, legislation, administrative practice, and policy-making.” The study doesn’t really draw attention to their acknowledgement of a 30 year lifespan for… Read more »

Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
20 days ago
Reply to  CapM

A quick search would have told you that both the lead authors of the report are both doctors in environmental science who have specialised throughout their careers in climate change, with one at Harvard University but now being the assistant Professor at New York University in the Department of Environmental Studies and the other mostly at Leeds’s Sustainability Research Institute in the UK and currently at the Environment Department at Chatham House, the not-for-profit registered charity. In other words, the type of people whose work and opinions we should be listening to.

CapM
CapM
20 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

You said earlier that you “work as an expert witness in forensic quantitative analysis.” are “appointed by the courts to give expert independent opinion.” are ” duty bound to be impartial”. are “trained in understanding the weighting of different types of evidence, conflicts of interest and bias.” Given the above I’m a bit surprised that your reply only focused on the profile of the researchers and ignored the profile of the organisation that commissioned/facilitated their research. That organisation’s concern is animal welfare. Which might explain why the two options the researchers were charged with investigating were the extremes of current… Read more »

Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
19 days ago
Reply to  CapM

What you are effectively suggesting is that the two experts have acted as ‘hired guns’ to manipulate a result under commission from a department in Harvard University. So yes, their personal profiles, records, qualifications are highly relevant under such serious accusations (i.e. in that world what you are insinuating is as serious an accusation as you can make and could lead to career-ending repercussions). Secondly, that would be quite a scandal for an institute like Harvard to engage in such practices. I’m sure you could drag through the background information at the Oxford World In Data Study and find all… Read more »

CapM
CapM
19 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

What you’re actually doing is
Again choosing to make those who conducted the study the criterion by which the study should be accepted and ignoring the possible bias/agenda of the Harvard Law School Animal Law & Policy Program.
Again using the strawman argument that I’m calling into question the integrity/ability of those who conducted the study.

What you seem to be doing again is avoiding considering that the professional attributes you apply to your work might not have been applied sufficiently to your hobby.

Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
19 days ago
Reply to  CapM

I’ll leave it to you to email Harvard then and ask their ethics department to start an enquiry. You better inform the UK Government as well because that study has also been used in Parliament.

Gwilym P
Gwilym P
22 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

In Britain, where we live and have most economical and environmental control. agriculture contributes 12% to greenhouse gas emissions of which it is estimated that animal ag contributes 8%. I am not a mathematician but 8% is a fair bit lower than the 24% emitted by transport and the 21% emitted by households. It is only twice as much as that emitted by household waste. These figures are emissions only. We have soil trees and hedges on our farms that sequester carbon the real figures are lower. A group of 12 of my neighbours came together to conduct a farm… Read more »

Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
22 days ago
Reply to  Gwilym P

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) estimates that agriculture will account for 20% of all emissions in the UK by 2035 because it is falling way behind other sectors. So it is absolutely right that the biggest contributors, red meat and to a lesser extent, dairy, need to be addressed drastically. Whilst clearly much more work to do, Transport and household energy are obviously being targeted with more success to date than farming. You may be a quirky outlier, but to give the general message that red meat production is carbon neutral is fantasy. As I’ve said elsewhere I’ve seen all… Read more »

Dai Tymawr
Dai Tymawr
22 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

There we go again not understanding Organic accreditation – it has nothing whatsoever to do with carbon neutrality

Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
22 days ago
Reply to  Dai Tymawr

Who said it’s got anything to do with carbon emissions? I didn’t. The point I am making is that there are claims being made that cattle are fed a diet of mostly grass and that if this was the case then there would be far more organic meat on the market, because grass, last time I checked was organic, meaning that the most difficult part of getting organic classification would be met. You even said on another post that cattle are fed up to 100% of grass, which as we both know is utter nonsense.

Dai Tymawr
Dai Tymawr
21 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

Tell us all you don’t understand Organic Classification without telling us you don’t understand Organic Classification. The hole you’re digging yourself just got even deeper. You think the most difficult part of organic classification is ensuring that the animals eat organic materials?!! Sure that means they could be fed on a diet of pure denim (cotton) and become certified, no? Which component of even concentrate ruminant feed do you think is not organic? Is it covertly laced with PFAS from the outflow of the DuPont factory, or the lint harvested from thousands of farmhouse tumble dryers (we all know how… Read more »

Gwilym P
Gwilym P
21 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

Here are a few facts about ruminant numbers on UK farms In 1875 there were: 6 million cattle and 29 million sheep In 2023 there were 9.5 million cattle a reduction of 1.8% from 2022 and 32 million sheep. A reduction of 4% from the previous year At peak production in the early 80s there were 16 million cattle and 45 milion sheep.. So in effect the agricultural industry is way further down the net zero road than any other industry having reduced it’s methane producing animals by a whopping 30%!! Lets compare transport In 1875 there was not a… Read more »

Last edited 21 days ago by Gwilym P
Dai Tymawr
Dai Tymawr
21 days ago
Reply to  Gwilym P

Pwyntiau hynod berthnasol Gwilym. Yn anffodus, ‘dwi’n amau nad oes gobaith addysgu y fath ‘sicrwydd diduedd arbenigol’!

Gwilym P
Gwilym P
20 days ago
Reply to  Dai Tymawr

Mae ne lawer mwy ‘run fath a fo dwi’n ofni!! Diolch am dy gyfraniadau diddorol

Gaynor
Gaynor
19 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

You are quoting UK agri figures. Welsh agri is totally different to English intensive agri. And your deficiency of knowledge about it shows clearly

Gaynor
Gaynor
22 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

You really have no idea about beef farming in Wales. You seem to conflate it all with the industrial scale meat production of thr southern and northern hemespere. I agree Wales needs to grow more veg but flying / global importing of food in is causing more environmental damage and CO2 emissions than Dai Cwmbach and his 150 head of angus or Welsh Black

BillyBB
BillyBB
17 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

Plant farming is environmental unsustainable. When you grow a crop, you degrade the soil and there is no way around that, vegetables are the worst. No regenerative farming nonsense ( which relies on huge amonts of pesticides) can change that. Grazing livestock builds soil……simple facts. You need grazing livestock to repair the damage of your irresponsible vegan diet. Secondly, if fossil fuels disappeared over night the only that could continue largely unchanged is sheep farming. What does that tell? Thirdly, contrary to popular belief hill farming is just as profitable as any other farming….and as a consumer of food that… Read more »

Ap Kenneth
22 days ago
Reply to  Gwilym P

This is economics plain and simple, if the new technologies can produce a product that most people find indistinguishable from farm produce, that is far cheaper to produce and concentrates that profit into fewer hands then it will be pushed relentlessly.
There maybe advantages, less inputs like antibiotics, fertilisers, pesticides more land rewilded (especially in the tropics) but farmers will be the losers especially if governments think they can save by not subsidising farmers.

Dai Tymawr
Dai Tymawr
22 days ago
Reply to  Ap Kenneth

In reality it as all about concentrating profits and systemic control into fewer hands – Not necessarily economics, but the trajectory of unregulated corporation capitalism.

The inputs, especially when compared to Welsh extensive livestock systems, will be far higher – absolute dependency on electrical/heat energy (with redundancy and backups), systemic antibiotics due to the risks of inaccurate fermentation (especially in developing nations with less stable power infrastructure), mineral extraction for supplementation, more global supply chains upstream and downstream of processing…

Ap Kenneth
22 days ago
Reply to  Dai Tymawr

It is absolutely about concentration of profit. The Welsh system of farming is irrelevant in this, if say a lamb substitute becomes acceptable in France or Spain then lambs biggest market can be dissolved whatever we might think here.

Dai Tymawr
Dai Tymawr
22 days ago
Reply to  Ap Kenneth

Welsh Lamb’s biggest market is England, and UK mutton is an almost entirely domestic market – decisions in France and Spain will impact market prices, but don’t underestimate the influence of the home market

CapM
CapM
22 days ago

” It is predicted that the price {of production] will drop below $10 per kilogram by 2025, partly due to the huge investment in this area – $7bn by the end of 2022, with more than half of that investment in the two years 2021 and 2022.” Massive investment suggests that massive returns are expected by those investing in this technology. This indicates to me that however cheap industrialisation makes production the price to the consumer will not necessarily shadow it that closely. The meat in some products is suitable for substitution, chicken nuggets and sausage rolls for example, others such… Read more »

Ap Kenneth
22 days ago
Reply to  CapM

Largely agree but fashion may even mean the demise of steak and health wise red meat does not have the best publicity.

CapM
CapM
22 days ago
Reply to  Ap Kenneth

Fashion can be a powerful driver. I can only think of veal as a non offal and not expensive meat having fallen out of favour and that’s probably mostly due to animal cruelty reasons. People will eat and drink all manner of things that are bad for them probably more so if they’re expensive/exclusive.

Dai Tymawr
Dai Tymawr
22 days ago

The ‘narrative of inevitable decline’ is one the conservation industry likes to roll out (alongside the ‘diversification into tourism is essential’ and ‘some high-end niche producers may survive’ tropes). It makes them feel that they’re benevolently ‘helping’ dim-witted and unworldly yokels fave their unfortunate futures (rather than actively shaping those futures through their lobbying, conflicted funding, and narrative curation). Some of them even believe this, and it is repeated ad-infinitum at conservation symposia and conferences worldwide – places that have little understanding of how the food sector works beyond reading a few dozen meta-analyses hurriedly published by academic colleagues with… Read more »

Alex
Alex
22 days ago
Reply to  Dai Tymawr

Rather than labelling ‘inevitable decline’ as a narrative it’s better to be honest that Welsh farming is losing thousands of jobs already – as in by having farming support designed by listening to farmers and their unions rather than environmental bodies or local communities.

It’s noticeable that the recent protests focused on the 5500 jobs the SFS might lose Wales, but completely ignored the 8000 lost since 2012.

Dai Tymawr
Dai Tymawr
22 days ago
Reply to  Alex

So the fact that jobs are being lost due to the failure of government and regulation (btw, farming support has long been delivered in the absence of any agricultural imperatives, and the unions’ detailed plans have been arbitrarily rejected by consecutive governments since the early noughties) is something you see as inevitable? And an industry that has already suffered significant losses due to legislative ineptitude protesting at the potential to lose more for the same reason is somehow ignoring its own recent past?!

Alex
Alex
21 days ago
Reply to  Dai Tymawr

your premise that jobs are being lost due to a failure of government and regulation is a false one. If anything regulation on farming is famously weak relative to other sectors. If you want proof of that just look at the lack of action on freshwater pollution where agriculture is the main cause. Jobs are being lost because much of Welsh farming is not profitable without taxpayer support. Mixed farms which are nature friendly consistently show themselves to be more financially stable than conventional equivalents. hence the change the Welsh Government is seeking to deliver. Yet all we are seeing… Read more »

Dai Tymawr
Dai Tymawr
21 days ago
Reply to  Alex

The Welsh Farm Business Survey really doesn’t show what you state, and to create a false dichotomy between ‘mixed’ and ‘conventional’ farms doesn’t suggest a thorough knowledge of the subject you’re addressing. As such, it’s hardly surprising that you haven’t fully understood the extent to which government and regulation impacts primary food production, far beyond direct agricultural legislation.
You also seem to misunderstand the rationale for foundational primary sector support in advanced economies, especially but not exclusively in economies reliant on the continued provision of those primary (raw) products at a price-point below the cost of production.

Ap Kenneth
22 days ago
Reply to  Dai Tymawr

This is a technological revolution that will utilise economics to substitute farming of animals, if it produces “meat and dairy” indistinguishable to most and cheaper than farmers can produce then it will replace the farmers. In itself it is not political but the results will most certainly will be.

Dai Tymawr
Dai Tymawr
22 days ago
Reply to  Ap Kenneth

It isn’t ‘utilis(ing) economics’ it’s utilising electricity the production of which is again heavily state subsidised, is massively resource intensive in both production and transmission, and currently (and for some time to come globally heavily reliant on the burning of fossil fuels.

In terms of economics – it’s just a continued transfer of economic dominance from a decentralised primary base to a centralised corporate monopoly, and without regulation they’ll run it at a loss until the competition is brought to heal – not a shift anyone should be lobbying for

CapM
CapM
22 days ago
Reply to  Dai Tymawr

I think that the tactic of pitching your tent alone on the anti-capitalist moral high ground although admirable pretty much ensures the demise of the family livestock farm in Cymru.

Better to identify those interested parties with complementary aims, cultivate trust and be prepared to give as well as take.

Dai Tymawr
Dai Tymawr
22 days ago
Reply to  CapM

The Welsh family farm has already given so much that it’s down to the brass tracks, and the ‘taking’ is done primarily by those further along the supply and finance chains than the primary producers.

The ‘anti-capitalist high ground’ is far more populated than you seem to think, and nowhere near as radical as you make it sound

CapM
CapM
22 days ago
Reply to  Dai Tymawr

Turning a significantly difficult domestic challenge (ensuring a measure of continuity over the next half century for family farms in Cymru) into a global scrap with the capitalist system is asking for a hiding. The origin of the “Welsh family farm” is in a large part the direct historic result of commoners being displaced and the indirect result of the dissolution of large estates whose owners had previously displaced those working the land. Family farms aren’t a preordained natural state on which agriculture operates but the result of change. It’s unrealistic to think that change has or must come to… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
22 days ago
Reply to  CapM

To misquote the infamous Mandelson you seem incredibly relaxed at the prospect of such change.

CapM
CapM
21 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

I think you’re confusing awareness with being relaxed.

Dai Tymawr
Dai Tymawr
21 days ago
Reply to  CapM

I think you seriously underestimate the scale, severity and nature of the change we’ll see globally over the next half century. To do away with the systemic resilience provided both by livestock and the decentralised family farm structure in the face of such volatility (economic, climatic, ecological, political/geopolitical, demographic and conflict based) would be seriously short-sighted. I don’t wholly agree with your synopsis of the historical evolution of the Welsh ‘family farm’, and there are significant regional and subregional variations and juxtapositions, but I also take your point about continuous change. However, this isn’t about picking a ‘global scrap’ with… Read more »

CapM
CapM
21 days ago
Reply to  Dai Tymawr

” it’s about limiting the impact of global capitalism in Wales,” “global capitalism” has made available all sorts of cheap goods and services to farmers. After all farmers are consumers the same as everyone else. Primary producers are disadvantaged by the system and it’s not surprising that farmers are seriously p1ssed off. But to be provocative I wonder how much Fairtrade coffee, tea, sugar, bananas etc can be found on the kitchen shelves of family farms compared for example to Nestle, Fyffes, Proctor & Gamble etc products I’m all for “intelligent, coherent legislation” and ultimately it either makes farm produce cost… Read more »

Ap Kenneth
22 days ago

Most farms in Wales make no profit and are dependent upon subsidy to remain afloat financially, as the market does not value its produce. The recent demonstration is Cardiff seems to back this assumption. In this zero sum world such subsidy is increasingly questioned. Development of these new technologies such as precision fermentation, while expensive to research are relatively cheap to scale and run, basically brewery type set-ups. These will take over the market initially by replacing farm produce in products such as “ready-meals” pizza etc.putting pressure on those farms at the margins to begin with. They will suceed as… Read more »

Stephanie
Stephanie
22 days ago

You need to come back to reality, if you think farmer’s are going to give up meat your in cuckoo land.

Ap Kenneth
22 days ago
Reply to  Stephanie

Farmers are right to farm meat as most of the land in Wales does not suit crops, but the economics of the situation mean that they may not have much choice as without subsidy they are marginal as it is. This will be economics plain and simple and farming sunshine, wind or tourists pockets maybe the alternative for some.

Glen
Glen
22 days ago
Reply to  Ap Kenneth

It isn’t farmers that are subsidised it’s the supermarkets that make huge profits from what our farmers produce.
If farmers received a fair price for their products they wouldn’t need subsidies.

hdavies15
hdavies15
22 days ago
Reply to  Glen

Big corporations and their institutional backers have influence with central and devolved governments. Farmers are regarded as just an irritation that gets in the way of “progress”.

Dai Tymawr
Dai Tymawr
22 days ago
Reply to  Glen

Actually, by creating a system in which farmers can sell primary food products at below the cost of production, it isn’t just the supermarkets that can inflate their balance sheet – it’s everyone else in the economy that profits from the money that households would otherwise have to spend on food. In our economy, the largest proportion of which would be mortgage and energy/fuel companies (the same people who would benefit most from the corporate takeover of food and land). Within the free market, this also permits a far higher % of domestic spend to end up off-site when compared… Read more »

Ap Kenneth
22 days ago
Reply to  Glen

Yes it does subsidise the supermarkets but does not change the fact that it is farmers that are directly subsidised.

Alex
Alex
22 days ago

Can you at least link to the original article so we can see the context, rather than your edit?

Mawkernewek
22 days ago
Reply to  Alex
Mawkernewek
22 days ago

There’s nothing wrong with vegans and I am all in favour of people who make that choice for themselves, but must it be an all or nothing thing, with all of us being herded (pun intended) into it by one means or another?

Robert Williams
Robert Williams
22 days ago

Owen Thomas battles valiantly, and almost single-handed, to introduce some facts and some rationality into the discussion. With this honourable exception, what a sad display of bluster, wishful thinking and self-deception we have in these responses to Gareth Clubb’s largely incontestable article. Sneering at the iceberg would not have saved the passengers and crew on the Titanic.
We certainly ewant to have people continuing to live and work in the countryside in Wales; the urgent need is for hard and honest thinking about how we ensure this.

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
22 days ago

An interesting thread with a lot of ‘hot under the collar’ contributors. However, what we have is a warning that farming in Cymru is under threat from changing consumer demand. No mention that farming is under threat in Cymru because of the NZ trade deal and Pacific Countries trade deals that the currnet Tory government has set up. So what can we do about it? Perhaps it is time to stop shooting at the messenger and start making some concrete plans. The Welsh Government needs to devlop a policy for making the country more self sufficient for food and to… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
22 days ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

Peter, some interesting and valid thoughts there, many of them moderately simple to adopt. Given that our recent history is littered with “initiatives” I find it a bit odd that our Bay regime has made little or no effort to pump prime these areas. Are you aware of any reasons for not doing so ? Is this area of “gestures” rather too low profile for those who like the limelight ? My personal hobby horse is food miles. Where I can cut 1000 to 100 I go for it. If I can cut 100 to 10 I get a real… Read more »

Ap Kenneth
22 days ago

People have difficulty in seeing the tsunami of change heading our way.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
22 days ago

“There’s nothing wrong with vegans” quote of the week…

Charles
Charles
21 days ago

My feeling is that as lamb prices fall and the market less reliable farmers will move into cattle and or diversify into other livestock, such as Buffalo and venison.

Dai Tymawr
Dai Tymawr
21 days ago
Reply to  Charles

Lamb prices have been relatively buoyant for some years, and mutton prices are at an all-time high. It’s the fact that they stagnated for so long before that that means they have a lot of catching up to do, and disparity between product price, input costs and the cost of regulatory alignment.

Once again the ‘narrative of inevitable decline’ isn’t being bourne out within the market (lamb prices up, meat alternative products being increasingly delisted by most major supermarkets)

Bethan
Bethan
20 days ago

Thank you so much Owen Thomas for bringing some much needed common sense and intellect to this discussion, that is severely lacking in other places. I would also add on top of what you have said already that it is always the case that the animal farmers never ever want to talk about the part about animal ethics. The billion voiceless animals are the biggest victims in all of this. Those millions of beautiful lambs in Wales that get to live the shortest of lives to then be marched off to be hung upside, electrocuted (which doesn’t always work as… Read more »

Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
20 days ago
Reply to  Bethan

Bethan, you have a heart of gold, something else sadly missing in a lot of this comments board. Surrounded by the Welsh countryside it strikes me every year when I see the adorable spring lambs bouncing around in the local fields what astonishing mental gymnastics must take place for people who have empathy for animals, who then go on to eat the same lambs. I’ve seen the documentary you are talking about exposing the way the vast majority of the pigs are killed in this country in supposed RSPA approved slaughterhouses. I’ve seen a lot of horrendous footage from UK… Read more »

CapM
CapM
20 days ago
Reply to  Bethan

I can agree that there’s much wrong with the industrialised slaughter of animals. A lot could be done to make it more humane at a cost but for most consumers it’s unfortunately a case of out of sight out of mind.

A view I’m interested in is that if those millions of lambs a year which as far as domestic livestock are concerned have the highest quality of life and have no concept of what awaits them were humanely killed are they better off than if they never existed in the first place?

Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
19 days ago
Reply to  CapM

Collins Dictionary: Humane: Humane people act in a kind, sympathetic way towards other people and animals, and try to do them as little harm as possible. CapM – How do you kill an animal like a lamb that has barely lived it’s natural life whilst conforming to the literal meaning of what humane is, where the farmers require the animal to bleed to death so the heart keeps pumping the blood out of it’s body as it dies? It’s another part of the animal agriculture industry cover-up using the word ‘humane’ to describe killing its animals. It makes people feel better… Read more »

CapM
CapM
19 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

That you have seen drawing a comparison between the killing of young sheep and the killing of young children as being supportive of your opinion suggests to me that you may not be quite the impartial commentator on livestock farming that you have made yourself out to be.

Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
19 days ago
Reply to  CapM

What a spectacular and disgusting attempt at misinterpretation. I used the child comparison to specifically refer to the lifespan of a sheep compared to that of humans for context only of lifespan, and made that perfectly clear by saying “in human lifespan terms”. And used the killing of a puppy to compare with that of a lamb. Tut tut.

Because you want to dodge a question that you don’t like to answer.

CapM
CapM
19 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

“A lamb gets to live about 5% of it’s natural lifespan. In human lifespan terms, that is like us killing 4 year old children”

Let the jury decide.
But I want to have a veto on any potential juror who is too thick to understand what 5% means.

Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
19 days ago
Reply to  CapM

and still you dodge the question you don’t want to answer.

Excellent deflection skills

CapM
CapM
19 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

I’ve killed animals in order to eat them.
I’ve also killed animals because they eat/would eat the growing fruit and veg I wish to eat.

Do you kill the animals that eat/would eat the growing fruit and veg you wish to eat or do you ‘look the other way’ and let someone else do the killing for you?

Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
19 days ago
Reply to  CapM

You answer my question first about how you humanely killed farmed lambs and I’ll answer yours. You’re still dodging it. You really are a deflection wizard.

CapM
CapM
19 days ago
Reply to  Owen Thomas

I never said I’d killed lambs.
A skilled operative at a small local abattoir using the penetrative captive bolt method to render the lamb unconscious quickly followed by the jugular veins being cut is about as humane by my definition as it gets if you want to eat a lamb chop.

I’ve already said that I think that there’s a lot that’s wrong with the industrial methods of slaughtering animals.

Bethan
Bethan
19 days ago
Reply to  CapM

Hi Cap M. No we should’nt. Some of your other comments below are not very nice. I’m sure your’e a nice person though deep down. Peace and Love to all people and animals.

Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
19 days ago
Reply to  Bethan

Wise words Bethan again. I’ll take heed of your peace and love to all people and animals message and use that as a signal to excuse myself from this board. Peace and Love.

BillyBB
BillyBB
17 days ago
Reply to  Bethan

Lambs are not hung upside down then killed, that is very illegal…..secondly all animals killed…when your pet dog or cat gets on a bit you take it to the vets and you kill it….all wildlife is either killed or starves to death….that is the nature of live….and it’s perfectly fine, except it

A Evans
A Evans
19 days ago

If Welsh Labour is left in charge Wales will be reduced to a 3rd world level! Scattered villages with little or no connections, farming back to 19th century level, technology banned, and a an over populated Senedd ruling the roast!

A Evans
A Evans
19 days ago

The Welsh Labour Senedd are hell bent on controlling our existence, in their image.

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