According to Scotland’s Agricultural Census 2018 and 2019, only 9% of our agricultural land is used to grow crops. Half of this is used to grow livestock feed. Over 50% of cereals produced on Scottish farms are used for animal feed and we currently grow more vegetables to feed livestock than we do for human consumption.
Livestock farming is a very inefficient way to produce food and a wasteful use of land and resources. Globally, meat, aquaculture, eggs and dairy use approximately 83% of agricultural land despite providing only 18% of our calories and 37% of our protein. One calorie of beef requires 37 calories of plants; 1 calorie of pork requires 12 calories of plants; 1 calories of chicken requires 9 calories of plants; 1 calorie each of eggs and dairy require 6 calories of plants respectively.
Shifting to stock-free farming would mean that all current cropland could be used to grow crops for human consumption. A 2019 report by Harvard Law School showed that if all current cropland in the UK was used to grow crops for human consumption we could more than provide for the calorific, protein and nutrient needs of every person in the UK – a conclusion to which DEFRA agrees. In Scotland, this would mean that the 77% of agricultural land unsuitable for cropping could be returned to nature, generating huge wins for climate change mitigation, ecosystem restoration, biodiversity enhancement and for us all.