Blog Posts: Farming

October 2nd, 2018

A 20,000-cow Dairy Farm in Europe? No way!

by David Sánchez

Noviercas is a small village of 158 inhabitants in Northeast Spain. It is located in the province of Soria, inside a region known as the “Spanish Siberia” because of the low population density, less than 8 people per square kilometer.

This village became famous when the co-op Valle del Odieta announced last year their intentions to build a 20,000-cow factory farm in the village. It would be the biggest dairy farm in Europe and the project immediately became controversial for all the potential impacts it could bring to the area and to the farming sector.

Farmers are leading the opposition, as they estimate this factory farm would destroy 700 direct jobs, one third of the dairy farms in the region. It would produce around 368,000 tons of manure per year, the equivalent of the waste produced by a city of 4.4 million people. And the farm would consume between 4 and 6.35 million liters of water per day, more than the total consumption of the city of Soria (40,000 inhabitants). Impacts on the environment and local communities can be huge.

This farm has nothing to do with the European model of livestock farming. We have witnessed fierce resistance to previous dairy mega factory farms with 8,000 thousand cows in the UK or even actions of civil disobedience against a 1,000-cow farm in France.

We cannot allow this model, imported from the US, to come to Europe. Impacts of these huge factory farms are well documented and are reason enough to ask for a ban. Stopping this farm would be a really symbolic step against the invasion of factory farms in Europe to defend a sustainable and social model of farming.

You can read more about it here in English, Spanish and French.

We will campaign with our allies to stop this project. Stay tuned!

March 21st, 2017

Spain, A Country Full of Manure

 

By David Sánchez

Over the last few decades, small- and medium-scale farms raising livestock have given way to factory farms that confine thousands of cows, pigs and chickens in tightly packed facilities. Uncontrolled agribusiness power and misguided public policies have pressed livestock producers to become significantly larger and to adopt more intensive practices, which come with a host of environmental and public health impacts that are borne by consumers and communities.

Spain and its pork meat industry is a clear example, as we expose in a new report released today. Spain is the third largest exporter of pork after China and the United States and has the largest pig population in the EU—over 28 million animals. Production and exports are growing as a result of high industry consolidation and low production costs. But that means that the industry is getting concentrated in just a few hands, with the number of farms diminishing rapidly and farmers getting squeezed in the process. Between 1999 and 2013, 180,000 pig farms disappeared in the country, with a massive impact in rural communities.

Read the full article…

May 13th, 2016

Quiet Win Keeps Factory Farms in Check

By Eve Mitchell

We're Stoppint Factory FarmsUK Government silliness just took a big hit. Thank goodness.

Those of you with long memories will know about ongoing UK plans to let business regulate itself. From the Business Focus on Enforcement, to the Red Tape Challenge, to the current Cutting Red Tape project, it’s pretty much the same story: The government asks Big Business if it would like less enforcement of fewer regulations, and, no surprise, Big Business says, “Yes, please!”

Read the full article…

September 11th, 2015

UK Milk Crisis – The Rest of The Story

By Eve Mitchell

dairy cows grazing

UK dairy farmers are understandably at their wits’ ends. Trying to stay in business selling your goods at a price that doesn’t cover what it costs you to make it must really wear you down when you know what you make is in nearly every fridge in the land. Farmers have been squeezed hard, particularly by supermarkets using milk as a loss leader (of course they want to pay as little as possible if they aim to sell the milk at a loss anyhow).

Read the full article…

August 14th, 2015

Scotland’s GM Ban Calls Everyone’s Bluff

By Eve Mitchell

Act to to Ban GM crops

Act to to Ban GM crops

Having had a few days to mull over Sunday’s announcement by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead that Scotland will invoke the EU’s new opt-out mechanism to ban genetically modified (GM) crops, the cleverness of the move continues to impress. In one sense it’s merely a reiteration of Scotland’s long-standing ban on GM crops (a position shared with Welsh and Northern Irish administrations, all of whom have devolved power – full authority over – their agriculture), but that doesn’’t tell half the story.

Formally speaking, Scotland will now ask the (pro-GM) UK Government to ask the European Commission to ask any company seeking approval for a GM crop in Europe to exclude Scotland from said approval under the mechanism introduced earlier this year. It will also use the new law to ask for an opt-out of crops already authorised or in the approvals queue. Democratically-elected governments having to go cap-in-hand to GM companies for permission not to grow their products is, of course, a democratic outrage, but it’s not the only one.

Read the full article…

June 12th, 2015

Cloning For Food: The Answer Is Still “Forget It!”

By Eve Mitchell

What We Say About CloningCloning is one of those political battles that shows how hard our political leadership can try to keep ethics at arm’s length by wearing us down until we give up. It’s been going on for years. Unlike some fights, this one is very easy to understand.

The European Parliament stands firm in supporting the public’s ethical rejection of cloning as a cruel and unnecessary process that has no place in our food system. Even official EU figures show that Europeans roundly reject clones for food. The Parliament demands a full ban on the products of cloning in the food chain.

The great cloning tug of war is still on, and we need to give the rope another good pull. Act now. Read the full article…

April 10th, 2015

Democracy Over GMOs – Digging in For The Long Haul

Food & Water Europe Let Me Decide Say No To GM CropsBy Eve Mitchell

Now that EU Member States can ban genetically modified (GM) crops (and they should) we’re digging in to get the next big change we need – democratic control over GM authorisations. Read the full article…

December 20th, 2013

Clones, the Commission and Ethical Contortionism

By Eve Mitchell

The European Commission’s proposed Directives on clones in the food chain fall woefully short of what citizens want and the Parliament demands.

The draft laws are not all they appear to be at first glance. One draft Directive “provisionally prohibits” cloning farm animals and the sale of farm clones or clone embryos. The other “provisionally prohibits” the sale and import of food from clones. Once enshrined in law the Directives would be reviewed to enable any “improvements” in cloning techniques that reduce animal suffering to be taken into account in future regulation.

Any prohibition of cloning is welcome, based as it is on the acknowledgement that cloning for food is unwanted and unconscionably cruel, but it‘s not enough.

The draft laws do not prohibit the sale of food from the offspring of clones, which renders them next to useless in the real world. The Commission emphasises, “[C]loning is so expensive that its use for food production is not lucrative.” This is a tacit admission that the proposed measures don’t actually tackle the real problem – food from cloned offspring. Read the full article…

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