'An attack on freedom of choice' - Farmers slam UEA beef ban
PUBLISHED: 16:57 12 November 2019 | UPDATED: 08:39 13 November 2019
Getty Images/iStockphoto/Oliver Rubinstein
Farmers have branded the decision to ban beef on the University of East Anglia campus as "illogical" and urged them to reconsider.
On Thursday night at the University of East Anglia's Union Council meeting, students voted by a 1pc majority to ban the sale of beef for climate change reasons from Students' Union run outlets, which includes The Union Shop, bar and The Hive Cafe.
The Union Council is formed by all full and part-time officers from the UEA Students' Union, representatives from each course and from every club and society.
An email exchange was posted between an anonymous person and UEA SU Activities and Opportunities Officer Alicia Perez on a university confessions site, where she said the proposal was put forward by a student and anyone that wanted to "bring beef back" was welcome to submit another motion.
The decision has been criticised by farmers who say that the focus should be on supporting local suppliers instead of a blanket ban.
Oliver Rubinstein, the National Farmers' Union East Anglia advisor, said: "We were disappointed to hear of this decision and we have contacted the UEA and asked to meet them.
"The NFU is committed to tackling climate change and we have ambitious plans for the industry to be net zero by 2040.
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"But we won't achieve this by curbing our own production and exporting it abroad to countries that don't have the same environmental standards or climate ambitions that we have here.
"The UEA is surrounded by many, high-welfare, sustainable producers of beef and these farmers need its support.
"It would be much better for UEA to commit to sourcing locally, instead of penalising farmers who are doing the right thing for the environment and food security."
The NFU's concerns were echoed by Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance who represent farmers and rural communities, who said: "On the face of it, a ban on beef would not be reflective of the university, but rather a small snapshot of students.
"Nevertheless, banning beef would be illogical and an attack on freedom of choice.
He continued: "It signals a complete disregard for our hardworking British livestock farmers who comply with the highest of environmental standards.
"Our message is clear: source local, grass fed beef and cut carbon emissions that way."
Elsewhere in the UK, the University of Cambridge's catering service removed lamb and beef from its in 2016, which they claim has reduced their carbon emissions by a third.