Sheep have a vital role in helping to tackling climate change

Want to read more?

We value our content and access to our full site is only available on subscription. Your subscription entitles you to 7-day-a-week access to our website, plus a full digital copy of that week’s paper to read on your pc/mac or mobile device In addition your subscription includes access to digital archive copies from 2006 onwards.

Already a subscriber?


Problems logging in and require
technical support? Click here
Subscribe Now

The National Sheep Association (NSA) is contributing to the climate change emergency by not only encouraging sheep farmers to engage with the challenges it presents but also to correct the many misleading statements being made that suggest sheep farming is causing a problem rather than being one of the solutions.

The association’s concern is that alternative ways of managing land and vegetarian type foods are being proposed as being options to reduce warming while increasing evidence is showing that the opposite is true.

Despite the ‘fake news’ constantly being hoovered up by the mainstream media, NSA says that by eating sensible amounts of British lamb from extensive grass-based systems consumers can feel confident their food choice is helping to protect our future.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker explains: ‘Contrary to mainstream media messages sheep, by their very existence, are excellent for the planet and are part of a circular recycling of natural elements.

‘Their reliance on fossil fuels is minimal compared to processed foods based on soya, almonds or palm oil – and we all know that Britain’s grasslands are highly appreciated for their association with our native wildlife whether its birds mammals or insects.’

Mainstream media bases its ‘best thing we can do for the planet is to stop eating meat’ advice on global statistics, which consider sheep and beef farms from across the globe – including large intensive units housing tens of thousands of animals.

Mr Stocker continued: ‘UK sheep farms have sheep spread across the countryside – often in areas that are simply not suitable for other types of farming – and are used in other systems to help naturally rejuvenate the soil for arable crops. Sheep can be used in so many ways to benefit the environment and naivety from mainstream media risks increasing our environmental footprint.’

Livestock is also widely criticised for its methane emissions; which NSA say is, again, misleading.

Mr Stocker added: ‘Methane shouldn’t be ignored; it is an emitted gas that has an impact on global warming. However, we now know that it doesn’t behave in the same way as the other major warming gases and the calculations should take this into account.

‘Methane has a short, rotational life cycle that means, providing livestock numbers remain stable, methane levels won’t build and build.
‘We are also finding that Nitrous Oxide emissions from grassland are far lower than was previously assumed and it only needs a small application of common sense to conclude that the main problems are caused by fossil fuels.’