New Zealand farmers reject National Farmers’ Union of England lamb claims

New Zealand farmers strongly reject claims by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) of England that New Zealand lamb is produced to a lower standard.

Posted on May 24 ,00:25

New Zealand farmers reject National Farmers’ Union of England lamb claims

"New Zealand upholds high animal welfare and environmental standards, making it an ideal partner for providing safe, nutritious, and high-quality lamb to United Kingdom consumers", says Alex Gowen, Regional Manager - UK & Europe, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ), which represents New Zealand sheep and beef farmers.

"New Zealand and the UK share common values and a commitment to rigorous production standards and robust regulatory and quality assurance frameworks so it is really disappointing to see these false claims promoted by the NFU. It’s important UK customers know the facts.

"New Zealand boasts some of the highest animal welfare standards worldwide. This has been backed by the RSPCA in written evidence submitted to the House of Lords, which stated “New Zealand is the one country globally judged to have better farm animal welfare standards than the UK.

"The World Animal Protection’s Animal Protection Index rates New Zealand ‘C’ for farm animal welfare standards, compared to the UK’s ‘D’ rating. New Zealand is also among the lowest global users of antibiotics in cattle and sheep production due to our extensive outdoor farming practices.

New Zealand's sheep and beef sector is also a global leader in sustainable farming, says Mr Gowen.

A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study of lamb by New Zealand Government science agency AgResearch in 2022 confirmed the carbon footprint of New Zealand beef and lamb is amongst the lowest in the world.

The study found that a kilo of New Zealand sheepmeat has a carbon footprint of just under 15 kilograms (kgs) of CO2 equivalent emissions per kilo. Meanwhile, the carbon footprint of New Zealand beef is just under 22kgs– making the country’s red meat among the most efficient in the world.

"The researchers, which compared New Zealand’s on-farm emissions to a range of countries’ footprints across the globe, concluded that when New Zealand beef or sheepmeat is exported, the total carbon footprint is lower or very similar to domestically-produced red meat in those nations".

Greenhouse gas emissions from New Zealand sheep and beef production have decreased by 30% since 1990. Trees on farms significantly offset remaining emissions.

Price differentials between UK and NZ lamb largely result from New Zealand's on-farm efficiency, not lower production standards, says Mr Gowen.

"Factors such as advanced sheep genetics and excellent pastoral utilisation contribute to this efficiency amongst a whole host of other factors.

"The complementary seasonal production of New Zealand grass-fed lamb and the United Kingdom’s grass-fed lamb ensures consumers have access to the best seasonal products year-round.

"This stabilises the market, supports price levels, and keeps lamb as a competitive product category against other protein sources, benefiting producers in both countries".

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