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Government supports mega-farms
Posted 14 May 2013
The government has signalled its backing for large scale factory farming as two proposed mega-farms in the UK await decisions on whether they can proceed. An announcement on a timetable for plans for a farm in Foston, Derbyshire, that will confine 25,000 pigs at a time, is expected later this week. A decision on whether a 1000-cow mega-dairy near Welshpool can go ahead is also expected shortly.
Despite massive opposition to such factory farms from animal rights activists, environmentalists and, often, local residents, a spokeswoman for Defra said on 11th May that ‘increasing the efficiency of food production will help us meet rising demand for food. This can be done on any scale and in ways that actually deliver environmental benefits. Large-scale farms are required to meet the same environmental and animal welfare standards as all UK farms.’ This statement clearly demonstrates the government’s support for factory farming and could prompt a surge in applications to build such establishments.
The reality of mega-farms like those being proposed in Foston and Welshpool are that it is impossible to ensure the well-being of every animal when there are so many. Factory farms reduce animals to units of production, rather than sentient beings capable of experiencing pain and suffering. They deprive them of the ability to perform many natural behaviours, which cause enormous stress. Such establishments, with so many animals crowded together in one place, are ideal breeding grounds for disease, and the waste and effluent they produce pose a major environmental and health hazard. The Environment Agency raised this as a serious issue with a proposed mega-dairy in Nocton, Lincolnshire, which ultimately led to the planning application being withdrawn in 2011.