Wednesday, June 06, 2012

industrial farming

Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers Union, proposes farms that would breed thousands of animals. At the heart of Kendall's defence of super farms is his belief that bigger farms are more profitable (or less loss-making) so can afford better equipment, more space and experts able "to protect the environment and animals".

Presently, UK farms are dwarfed by the mega farms of other countries. In the US, farms with 10,000 pigs are not uncommon and Saudi Arabia has a super dairy with a herd of 37,000. A typical UK unit holds 100 to 150 head of cattle or pigs.

Critics who claim they will create mass herds in conditions where injuries will go unnoticed, disease will spread quickly and the environment will struggle to cope with the slurry and pollution. Last year, there was a move to house 8,000 dairy cows at Nocton, Lincolnshire. This application from Nocton Dairies was withdrawn because of official concerns about water pollution and the animal welfare protests.  There are plans for a farm for 2,500 sows and their piglets at Foston, Derbyshire, and another for 1,000 cows in Powys, Wales.

The UK is about 62% self-sufficient in the food it could produce overall and 40% self-sufficient with regard to pork

1 comment:

ajohnstone said...

The number of U.S. farms has dropped from 6.35 million in 1940 to 2.2 million in 2010 and the average size of those remaining more than doubled, according to the U.S. About 62 percent of California farms disappeared between 1950 and 1969. In 1945 typical American farms produced between four and five commodity products. By 2002, most farms produced only one commodity.

Despite the reduced number of farms, the actual quantity of food produced increased nearly four-fold. The new agribusiness model has created larger more specialized farms, ranches and dairies producing most of the food eaten in the country. Food yields per acre and milk yields per cow have increased substantially, while actual real unit prices paid to farmers have dropped each year.

Agricultural products from these large facilities are shipped to central distributors where they are repackaged and redistributed before shipping to supermarkets. In the current business model, with no natural ties to the area or the season, consumers are now encouraged to eat fresh melons from Chile in December and fruits and vegetables brought in from Mexico, Texas or Florida all year around