Targeting young impressionable minds to push an anti-meat agenda is one step the BBC were foolish to make in a recent episode of Blue Peter.

Viewers were encouraged to earn a green badge, which would involve them taking part in a two-week pledge to become climate heroes.

Sensible suggestions included switching off lights and appliances when leaving a room and drinking reusable water bottles. But asking kids to switch to plant-based meals overstepped the mark on many levels.

Not only is it a socially irresponsible move which undermines parents, but it could prove harmful to the development and health of young children. Red meat provides vital nutrients essential for growth – it is a valuable source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

I spoke to TV personality and welsh farmer Gareth Wyn Jones who wasted no time in sharing his disappointment in a video response which has gone viral. He criticised the show for making sweeping statements about meat consumption which failed to acknowledge the differences between UK meat production compared to global practices – which come with a much higher climate price tag.

This was a wasted opportunity, with millions of children tuned in, not to put forward the case for green, climate friendly farming and has simply added fuel to the fire that the BBC are increasingly being seen as an anti-farming organisation.

Neil Shand of the National Beef Association told me that he has rebranded the organisation as the Beef Bashing Corporation and believes there is a large number of journalists within the BBC who are pursuing their own personal food agenda – and farming happens to be in the firing line.

Despite the best efforts of those who continuously try to derail the farming industry, demand for beef has been booming during the pandemic. Farmgate prices are on a consistent high, and the public are continuing to support their local farmers and butchers as they satisfy their growing interest in where their food comes from.

The increase in demand for beef is in part due to the polish meat scandal which took place last spring, where ASDA’s customers rejected polish meat on the shelves, demanding local beef. In response, the supermarket has committed to only sourcing British beef, which was a tremendous win for the industry.

As we begin to navigate our way out of the pandemic and the media revamps its climate agenda, we mustn’t lose sight of the role farmers played this past year in feeding the nation and doing so in a sustainable, climate friendly way.

We must avoid turning the ‘farming heroes’ message of the present, back into the ‘climate villains’ story of the past.

The next Scottish Government has a real opportunity to build on the growing interest in food production and it climate credentials, by introducing it as a subject into the national curriculum.

Although there are fantastic organisations such as the Royal Highland Education Trust and The Royal Northern Countryside Initiative – who organise farm visits and classroom talks on food and farming – there needs to be a push from the top, to embed this learning into all schools.

I have really missed volunteering with RHET this last year and seeing/hearing the reactions of pupils who are discovering the wonders of farming, often for the first time. In non-Covid times I have been eager to visit more schools in Glasgow, but there hasn’t been the demand from teachers. Rural schools tend to have a higher uptake, but urban schools are missing out on these opportunities and these are the children who often can grow up with no connection or awareness of the land and the people who manage it. All children, no matter their background, deserve to understand where their food comes from.

In the past few weeks, numerous organisations have sounded the bell to make this dream a reality. The most recent being the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs, after 72 per cent of members who took part in a recent survey called for ‘Agriculture’ to be introduced as part of the national curriculum.

On Friday, the country mourned the loss of HRH Prince Philip ¬– a well-known farming enthusiast and passionate advocate of rural education. He introduced the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme back in the 1950’s – with the aim of encouraging thousands of young people from all walks of life to respect and enjoy the countryside.

He was a champion of sustainable farming and recognised the important role the nation’s farmers had to play in conserving the land and its wildlife population. His son, HRH Prince Charles, shares his enthusiasm and love for rural life.

In 2007 he intervened to save Dumfries House – a stunning stately home and estate, local to me here in Ayrshire ¬– which offers fantastic opportunities to young people to learn about food, farming, and horticulture. Kids can visit the special collection of rare breed animals at Valentin’s Education Farm, and learn about gardening, horticulture, and food preparation by growing their own vegetables and learning how to cook them.

One in three children have not heard farm animal sounds in real life, with thousands only hearing it through their TV or computer screen and one in five primary school children and 18 per cent of secondary school pupils have never been to a farm.

There are millions of hungry young minds who have never had the chance to learn about farming, which makes it all the more important that informed and balanced messages are delivered to these impressionable minds.

Children should have the right to an education on where their food comes from and not be swayed by unbalanced and dangerous media reporting which could sever the bond between our farmers and the next generation.