Was able to spend only two hours at a Community Conference in Lanfyllin, Montgomeryshire today. It was organised by 'Dolen Ffermio', a charity dedicated to raising awareness in farming communities of the North/South interdependence in agriculture. I was sorry to leave, having enjoyed a 'goat burger' for lunch. It was an instructive two hours, especially when Professor Nigel Scollen of Aberystwyth University, and Professor Chris Reynolds of Reading University began answering questions about the impact of methane produced by cows and sheep on the environment. There is no doubt that the f**ting and belching of farmed animals is an important issue. Very definitely not a laughing matter. Much important research is being undertaken to reduce the amount of methane produced. It all depends on diet, on maximising life span and productive output from each animal (to reduce the number needed), and efficient management of grassland. Garlic is reputed to be good, except it makes cow's milk stink.
I was surprised how seriously the threat to traditional livestock farming is being taken. There has been a successful campaign by lobby groups, particularly those dedicated to promoting animal welfare and vegetarianism, to link livestock farming with global warming - today's hottest issue. No-one can deny that farming animals for meat produces methane which contributes to global warming. But its nothing like as straight forward as it seems. And then I opened today's telegraph, and there it was, an article by Louise Gray under the headline 'Eat less meat and save the planet " says quango'. It seems that the Sustainable Development Commission are jumping on the bandwagon, and championing the vegetarian and organic option - despite 'organic' livestock farming probably being more methane productive than its conventional equivalent. If these people have their way, what are we going to do with all the CO2 absorbing grassland of Wales. As Marie Antoinette (or Rousseau) might say of today's Welsh people, "Let them eat grass". Its enough to make me want to start active farming again.