Midland Pig Producers....telling porkies?
Midland Pig Producers (MPP), who are behind the proposal for a massive pig factory farm in Foston, Derbyshire claim that it will bring "considerable environmental benefits". Great news for lovers of bacon butties with an environmental conscience you may think. But can such a claim be true for a farm of 25,000 indoor pigs that's thirty times the size of the average UK pig herd?
The claim certainly seemed hollow when the Environment Agency (EA) recommended that the planning application be refused due to serious concerns over the risk to groundwater pollution.
This week Friends of the Earth will be submitting its own objection to the proposal which covers the following concerns:
- Significant increases in local traffic
as thousands of pigs are transferred off-site every week
- More disease and greater antibiotic resistance which could transfer to humans
due to the huge number of pigs housed in one location
- Water and air pollution
from treatment of slurry and other waste
MPP also claims that its farm would be good for the rural economy. But small-scale farmers would struggle to compete with the mega farm - putting rural livelihoods at risk.
Despite the massive scale of this proposal it would only create 18 jobs at the farm.
Worse, the Soil Association has estimated that if Foston takes sales away from small pig farms up to 350 pig farms could go out of business.
One interesting aspect of the application is that MPP say they will be using only home-grown feeds, instead of imported soy. Friends of the Earth is campaigning for alternatives to soy to be used in livestock production because of the devastating impacts of soy expansion on rainforests and other habitats in South America.
The commitment from pig producers to move away from using soy is welcome but it is not a reason for us to support this factory farm.
And as the pig industry has repeatedly told us that soy is essential to pig farming we'll be seeking to ensure that if planning permission is granted MPP are made to stick to their promise of using home-grown feed.
But instead of being faced with a series of proposed factory farms, each claiming to be the sustainable future of farming, we need an overhaul of farming policy through the Common Agricultural Policy to deliver real changes to livestock farming across the EU.
Friends of the Earth wants to see more support for sustainable systems of production including more mixed farming (where feed and livestock are produced on the same farm) and grazing and more production of sustainable home grown feed crops including peas and beans.
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