Latest news from Big Barn and our producers.

‘For’ or ‘against’ factory, pork, & milk, farms

Do we want cheap milk & pork?  The big factory farms keep the animals inside and recycle much of the waste to make methane and electricity.  But at what cost to animal welfare?

When my two pigs had to be locked in a large stable for 2 days while I repaired my fence they were literally skipping with happiness when I led them back to the field.  If we all saw how our food was produced what would we choose to buy?

Now that we have been separated for our food we must be more vigilant lest we slide in to a GM, Factory farming world. We must support local farmers and listen to lobby groups.

Two such lobby groups in the UK have released a new report attacking so-called “mega-farms” and accusing the UK livestock industry of taking a course that will lead to cruelty to animals and pollution. According to the report, produced by the Soil Association (SA) and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) hundreds of UK farmers could be driven out of business if planning permission is granted for mega farms in Britain.

“We know from America that the real cost of food produced in factory farms is poor animal welfare, pollution and the economic death knell for thousands of small scale farmers. That cannot be something we sleepwalk into accepting here. If we do, it’s difficult to see how the British countryside and our traditional rural communities will ever be the same again,” said Simon Pope, WSPA UK Head of External Affairs.

The report comes after the withdrawal of an application to build a 4,000 cow dairy unit in Lincolnshire and a new application to build 2,500 sow unit in the Midlands. The joint press statement from the SA and WSPA claims that the proposed dairy unit would have forced around 50 average sized family dairy farms out of business. Based on government figures, up to 350 of the smallest pig farms could lose all their sales if the pork from the proposed sow unit hit the market.

Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director, went on to say,Developers claim they’re meeting public demand, but it’s wrong to say the British public are demanding that cows must be kept inside throughout the months they are milked, or that 2,500 mother pigs should spend their entire lives shut up inside a factory. These huge factory farms could herald a new phase in the way British farmers keep animals, opening the floodgates to similar developments and changing our farming landscape forever.” 

In my view this is not farming. It is about corporations not farmers. Animals become expendable assets on an accountants spreadsheet with only enough welfare to meet regulatory standards.

I would prefer to see animals reared by professional, caring, enthusiastic, farmers who sell and communicate with local customers who care, ask questions and, in some cases, get involved with production. We live in a green and pleasant land, it can be done and, by cutting out the middle men and retailer, be great value.

To have your say please add your comment below, or use our map to find your local producer, find out how they produce their animals, (most will show you with pride) buy and taste the difference.

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