Farmers are becoming 'increasingly frustrated' at the attempts of individuals and activist groups using misinformation and inaccuracies to tarnish the industry’s reputation, according to NFU Cymru.
Throughout January, the vegan campaign 'Veganuary' advocates a plant-based diet, free of meat, dairy and other animal products, for the public to commit to.
But farmers are concerned that January is now a time when the industry argues with a torrent of false claims of crimes against animal welfare, the environment and human health.
According to NFU Cymru President John Davies, consumers should be able to make purchasing decisions based on the facts around the production of red meat and dairy, rather than being “misled by the fiction cooked up by those whose agenda seeks to undermine the good reputation and high standards of the Welsh farming industry”.
He said it is 'particularly frustrating' during Veganuary because misinformation about farming is rife in the media.
“The reality is that Welsh farmers are champions of some of the highest animal welfare standards that can be found anywhere in the world,” Mr Davies said.
“Welsh farmers take their environmental responsibilities extremely seriously and continue to offer practical, workable solutions and improvements to the challenge of climate change that affects the whole of society.
“In Wales we are proud of our ability to turn grass, often grown in marginal areas where other crops cannot grow, into top quality PGI Welsh Lamb and Beef, as well as a wide range of dairy products.”
He added: “Detractors of our industry will point to the supposed detrimental environmental impact of livestock farming while choosing to ignore the powerful benefits that livestock grazing can contribute to soil restoration and carbon sequestration.
“Such arguments also discount the wider positive impact that livestock farms have on Wales’ iconic landscapes, biodiversity and the fabric and prosperity of our rural communities.”
'Facts not fiction'
Mr Davies has called on consumers to make their own individual choices based on 'facts and not fiction' espoused by those with an 'agenda'.
The National Sheep Association (NSA) has also called on farmers to fight back against Veganuary. The group criticises the campaign as being 'hell-bent' on painting livestock as the enemy.
NSA Chief Executive, Phil Stocker says: “Make no doubt about it, behind the positive messages about Veganuary lies a well co-ordinated campaign against livestock farming.
“Some people seem hell bent on portraying sheep as a global enemy, but in fact they are the ultimate in renewable technology and are an efficient form of productive land management that is planet friendly.”