The government must rethink its food strategy to reduce the environmental impact of meat and dairy, according to a new Bill.

The Sustainable Livestock Bill, presented by Conservative MP Peter Ainsworth, received its First Reading in the Commons last week. The Friends of the Earth-backed campaign so far claims to have gained the support of 259 MPs and 30,000 members of the public.

The Bill argues the current livestock production model does not work due to the high impact of pesticides, feeds and emissions on the environment and calls for more localised food production, using, for example, EU feed rather than South American soya.

Hemp, lupins, legumes and oilseed rape all provided alternatives, it claims. Less intensive systems, more organic production, and lower consumption of meat and dairy are advocated, alongside more R&D funding and diets tailored to foods produced in the UK.

However the Bill was dismissed as "disappointing rhetoric" by Eblex sector director Nick Allen, who pointed out the UN had admitted it needed to look again at the figures it attributed to emissions from livestock because they might be unfairly high compared with other sectors. "And in view of our roadmap highlighting the complexity of the issues surrounding emissions, such a simplistic argument before Parliament is not helpful."

The NFU also pointed out that UK agriculture had taken numerous steps to reduce its footprint and FoE should have taken note of the Greenhouse Gas Action Plan and the Red Meat and Dairy Roadmaps.