The EUSA beef ban won’t just hurt local farms, it’ll also hurt the environment

The UK has the most environmentally friendly farms in the world and we need to support them

On Friday, Edinburgh students will face a referendum on whether or not the EUSA will “cease the sale of all beef in Students’ Association Cafes and Restaurants.” Student council members voted 51 per cent in favour of the motion, meaning it would be put to a university-wide student ballot. SRUC students who wanted to attend the meeting to argue against the ban but were escorted out of the pleasance as they were told the hall was too full. Since then the animal vet society and EUSA president have spoken out against the ban, while others still think it is a step in the right direction.

Sadly I feel that the arguments against the vote have been severely lacking. On the EUSA website, the main counter arguments are:

• “It takes away people’s choice to buy beef on campus.”

• “If students are buying beef then they don’t want it banned.”

But these aren’t the strongest arguments, and they aren’t the issues students care about. Given most people want beef banned on account of the environment, why is no one saying that only 10 per cent of greenhouse gases in the UK were produced by agriculture compared to 28 per cent produced by transport.

Speaking to some of my friends at the University of Edinburgh I was extremely surprised that they were unaware of the various ways in which the British livestock industry is very sustainable. People need to consider the what is actually happening to put the meat on their table and that voting to ban beef is a very damaging for sustainable British farming.

EUSA sources all their meat and dairy products are sourced within 35 miles when possible, so the food they’re currently serving comes from local farms, which is something that should be celebrated. It means that the livestock fall under the QMS (Quality Meat Scotland) assurance which is supported by the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The Red Tractor quality assurance scheme also applies which focus on animal welfare as well as environmental protection by trying to minimise the use of pesticides and fertilisers.

UK farmers are some of the most sustainable farmers in the world, through practice and government legislation. Cross Compliance is a set of compulsory rules and regulations, set out by the UK Government to help manage how farmers raise their livestock and ensures their practices are environmentally friendly whenever possible. These rules work by limiting the application of fertilisers in areas where it does the most harm as well protecting habitats and encouraging biodiversity.

There is also evidence from the UK Climate Change Committee that grass-fed livestock can be carbon neutral, as the Methane produced is a short life span in Earths atmosphere and the grass soaks up the carbon dioxide emissions. In the UK, 70 per cent of livestock farming is done on permanent pastures which can hold up to 600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Even cattle feed is now being developed to be as sustainable as possible, with cattle feed companies such as Harbro developing animals feeds which reduce the animals methane emissions. With these innovations it’s clear the British Beef industry is not only one of the most sustainable in the world, but it’s still improving.

The UK has the most environmentally friendly farms in the world and we need to support them. Stopping the sale of beef isn’t going to stop people eating beef. All it does is take away a distributor of local beef which has been has been produced in the most sustainable way possible. Encouraging people to eat locally sourced food is the way to an overall sustainable future. Please vote to keep beef in Edinburgh University and in future please think about where your food is coming from.

The online ballet is open until 10am on Friday so please vote now!