Half of the UK’s wheat harvest every year – equal to 11 billion loaves of bread – is getting used to feed livestock in an “inherently inefficient” course of that’s fuelling local weather change, a WWF report reveals.
The report reveals the extent of farmland used to develop crops which might be getting used to feed animals as an alternative of individuals. It explores the advantages for folks, local weather and nature of utilizing extra of the UK’s arable land to develop crops for human consumption as an alternative, equivalent to addressing the local weather and nature crises and boosting the UK’s meals resilience.
The newest report in WWF’s Way forward for Feed collection highlights the truth that dairy and meat merchandise present solely 32 % of energy consumed within the UK and fewer than half of protein regardless of livestock and their feed making up 85 % of the the nation’s agricultural land use.
Rising crops like cereals to feed cattle accounts for a major proportion of this land use footprint, in response to the evaluation within the report.
Wheat and barley grown to feed farmed animals within the UK makes use of 2 million hectares of land – 40 % of the UK’s arable land space.
Wheat grown within the UK every year to feed livestock – principally chickens and pigs – makes up half of our annual wheat harvest and can be sufficient to supply practically 11 billion loaves of bread.
Oats grown within the UK to feed livestock every year makes up a 3rd of our annual oat harvest and can be sufficient to supply practically 6 billion bowls of porridge.
The UK imports massive portions of soy to feed pigs and poultry, fuelling the destruction of treasured habitats abroad, just like the Brazilian Cerrado.
Changing animal feeds like soy and cereal with options like grass, by-products from the meals provide chain, and modern feed elements equivalent to insect meal, would liberate land to develop meals for folks, together with excessive worth crops like fruits, greens, and nuts, and could possibly be on the coronary heart of a transition to nature-friendly regenerative agriculture.
The report recognises that this method to feeding cattle would necessitate a discount in total numbers of livestock within the UK.
Kate Norgrove, govt director of advocacy and campaigns at WWF stated: “We are able to’t afford to remain locked right into a meals system that’s not match for objective, with meals costs hovering.
“Far an excessive amount of of the meals we eat is produced in methods which might be fuelling the local weather disaster and driving catastrophic nature loss, but failing to ship inexpensive, wholesome meals for all.
“To make our meals system really shock-resistant we have to speed up a shift to sustainable manufacturing, together with rethinking the best way we’re utilizing large portions of the UK’s most efficient land to develop meals for livestock as an alternative of individuals.
She added: “UK governments can future-proof our meals and produce large advantages for nature and local weather on the identical time by ramping up assist for farmers to remodel our landscapes, making house for nature in farms and forests, fields and fens.”
Focusing purely on the carbon footprint of meals manufacturing dangers fuelling agricultural intensification and masking different destructive environmental impacts, like air pollution from slurry or land conversion for feed manufacturing in rooster farming, which may have a low carbon footprint compared with pasture-fed beef, the report states.
It additionally highlights the significance of taking a look at a wider vary of measures to judge the environmental impression of all points of meals manufacturing, taking account of pressures on land, water and biodiversity earlier than drawing conclusions.
Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This text relies on a press launch from WWF.