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Intensive Dairy Farming Debate Continues

29 October 2010

UK - 51 MPs showed their support for the growing campaign against industrial mega-dairies by attending a briefing in Westminster last night co-hosted by two of the UK’s largest animal welfare charities Compassion in World Farming and WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals).

Parliamentarians of all political parties heard about the threats posed to cow welfare, British countryside, food sustainability, rural economics, human health and environment, from industrial mega-dairies, such as the 8,100 dairy cow factory farm proposed in Nocton, Lincolnshire.

This follows campaigning from Compassion in World Farming and WSPA, who say that the UK is facing a “watershed moment” in the future of British farming with proposals for the industrial sized dairy farm.

Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive of Compassion said: “This event underlined the strength of opinion against the proposed mega-dairy, which will threaten animal welfare and the countryside, will put hard-pressed family farms under even more pressure, and will undermine the integrity of our milk. The bottom line is that cows belong in fields during the grazing season, not indoors.”

The scale of the development is bigger than any dairy farm in Western Europe and it is modelled on the gigantic intensive ‘mega-dairies’ of the USA, where cows have limited or zero access to pasture, and a reduced lifespan due to breeding for excessive milk yields. The two charities are calling for the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to take the initiative and lead a measured, balanced and neutral debate about the issue, involving the dairy industry, small and large-scale dairy farmers, environmental and animal welfare groups, retailers and consumers.

Mike Baker, WSPA Chief Executive said: “To date, dairy farming in the UK has been broadly sustainable, using small, manageable herds, fed on grass. These farms are good for animal welfare, the environment and the local economy – or have the potential to be. Yet the Nocton Dairies could put over UK 100 dairy farms out of business. WSPA is heartened to see such a large MP turnout and optimistic that together, we can make the right choices for the future of how we get our milk in this country.”

A recent Ipsos MORI survey, commissioned by WSPA showed 61 per cent of the British public would not knowingly buy milk from intensive dairies.

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