THE BBC has come under fire from farming groups for its controversial documentary 'Meat: a threat to our planet?'

Both farming unions and the National Beef Association (NBA) claimed that the programme failed to point out the difference between American and British agricultural methods.

The four UK farming union presidents said: “At no point did the documentary explain the vast differences between American meat production and UK production. This was a massive oversight considering the BBC’s audience and would have left people with the impression that all meat is produced in the same way.

“We know the public want to eat sustainably and they can do this by investing in the UK livestock sector, which is already producing some of the most climate-friendly beef and lamb in the world and has an ambition to do even more. Beef production in the UK is already 2.5 times more efficient than the global average and four times more efficient than places which are deforesting land.

“Simply showing the environmental impact of beef production in North and South America does nothing to help people make informed choices about food which can be grown and reared in ways that offer benefits for the environment. For example, with the UK’s climate, landscape and grass-based systems we have the means, and the ambition, to provide quality, nutritious meat in ways that not only protect the environment, but help mitigate the world’s impact on the climate.

“The documentary did, however, demonstrate the concerns UK farming has about future trade, and what we could expect to see on our supermarket shelves if the government were to allow food into the country which has been produced in ways that would be illegal here.

“If we are to maintain our values of environmental protection and animal welfare which are at the core of UK farming, and we know the public want to uphold, future trade deals must ensure all imports meet the standard required of UK farmers.”

The NBA said it had sent a letter to Charlotte Moore and Tom McDonald of the BBC, who commissioned the documentary, which was aired on BBC One on Monday evening.

It said: "To our industry, the programme quite clearly demonstrated exactly why we should buy British, as we are aware of how different UK livestock production systems are to those elsewhere in the world.

"However, we feel that this point was not made clear in any way to viewers, some of whom have little understanding or experience of agriculture, and the content of the documentary could have a potentially damaging public perception of all red meat.

"We feel it is our duty as the NBA to complain to the BBC about their failure to make any real comparison to UK beef production methods, and have asked if there will be a follow-up programme focusing on British agriculture and beef farming practices in the UK."