Nocton Cow Factory Update

A Frisian Holstein cow in the Netherlands: Int...

Cows Belong In Fields

Yesterday at a London press conference, the companies behind the US-style cow factory farm propsed for Nocton in Lincolnshire announced that they are pressing on with their plans to build the facility in spite of widespread public concern for the environment and animal welfare. Nocton residents are wondering why London was chosen for the press conference and feel this shows a continuing lack of regard for local people who will be most affected by the plans.

Deborah Wilson of CAFFO (a local campaign group), said: “This proposal poses a grave threat to our environment, particularly the potential pollution of our ground water, with a fragile water aquifer directly under the proposed site … We are also concerned about the health and wellbeing of the residents of several nearby villages, with the potential for airborne particles affecting those with respiratory problems.”

According to The Independent this morning, supermarkets, Sainsburys, Tesco, Waitrose, and M&S have declared their intention not to support the project but to continue using their current suppliers. Morrisons was non commital – shame. A recent Ipsos MORI survey, commissioned by WSPA and based on responses from 2,019 people aged 15+ showed that 61% of the British public would not knowingly buy milk from intensive dairies.

Animal charities, WSPA, CIWF and cowsbelonginfields.org have vowed to continue fighting plans for the Nocton mega-dairy. Yesterday’s announcement included the promise that the size of the herd would be scaled back to 3,770 but it would still be the largest dairy in Britain and run on the US zero-grazing model. These cows would have extremely limited access to the outdoors, no access to pasture, and would be milked three times a day until useless – living out a fraction of their natural lifespan. Cows forced into these levels of productivity are at high risk of health problems such as lameness, mastitis, severe loss of weight and infertility and require intensive management to avoid very poor welfare.

Department of Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is being called upon to open the debate about the future of dairy farming in britain to all concerned groups, and The Government needs to respond with an urgent review of their welfare code, given that such factory farms have never threatened these shores before. Many are calling this a “watershed moment” in British farming.

At 38Degrees, campaigners are pressing on to grow their 20,000 strong petition against the plans, citing the sucess of public opinion so far in getting them moderately altered. “If 20,000 of us managed to force the factory farm backers to change their plan, imagine what 50,000 of us could do! We could force the businesses to abandon the plans altogether, and make sure councils block mega-dairies like this from ever being built.” The petition can be found at http://www.38degrees.org.uk/stop-cow-factory-farms.

The future of farming in Britain could be an idyll of Community Supported Agriculture on a local scale, humane and organic, if we want it. The advent of factory dairies in this country is a big step in the wrong direction and not the only option, but if we sit back, the money and the spin will do it’s work and we could be waking up to what can only be described as a miserable scenario for both people and animals.

Please follow the links to get involved in the campaigns and contact your local MP and supermarket with your concerns.

Sources:
WSPA and 38Degrees.

Links:
EFSA’s report on dairy farming (July 2009)

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