Sunday, June 27, 2010

People Making a Difference: Kudos to our British Brothers & Sisters!

Our brothers and sisters are fighting the good fight in England. They're well organized, passionate about their cause and their efforts are bearing wonderful fruit. They are an inspiration to other animal rights activists around the world. They are waging a battle against the factory farm system. And it appears they are winning great victories. We should take note of their efforts. These men and women are truly making a difference for the better.

The New Zealand Herald notes the latest developments:

Plans for three large-scale units in England have encountered fierce resistance from campaigners who say they would cause extra noise, smell and disruption and cause more stress and disease for animals.

Animal welfare organisations fear the proposals are signs that a new intensive system of agriculture could soon replace the UK's patchwork of small livestock farms.

In the past three months, plans have been brought forward for an 8,000-cow dairy farm at Nocton in Lincolnshire and a 3,000-cow unit at South Witham, also Lincolnshire. Both have been withdrawn following fierce opposition.

There is also growing opposition to a 2,500-pig sow farm located at Foston in Derbyshire. The Foston pig farm, according to the animal welfare group Viva, will be the largest intensive factory farming pig farm in the UK. Like all huge factory farm operations, the Foston farm will place pigs in dark, disorienting and cramped places, where they have barely enough room for their piglets.

But the struggle against factory farms in the UK has been a resounding success. And animal rights activists are keeping their marching shoes on to protest the future creation of such gargantuan enterprises. Groups like Viva, Compassion in World Farming and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) are at the forefront of the struggle. Most of these activists do not want to eliminate farming. As Suzi Morris, the director of WSPA, put it:

It's all being driven by economies of scale. We have been importing a lot of milk and the UK dairy industry has been undermined and conventional dairy farmers have been going out of business. We believe that animals should be farmed for food but we don't agree there can be any justification, economic or otherwise, for the commoditisation of animals and their housing in such large units. (Source)

In an ideal world, everybody would go vegan. But it's not an ideal world. And farming is a key part of most economies. I am elated to see so many of these huge factory farm enterprises stopped dead in their tracks before even having a chance to take off. The UK activists are offering a model to the rest of the world on how to resist these giant farming enterprises.

Part of their success has been using populist arguments to their advantage - siding with the small farmer over the impersonal giant factory farm. It's working in the UK. Here in North America, where we have many factory farms and they are fairly well entrenched, that argument is a harder sell. But it is important, nonetheless, that we learn lessons from the struggle in the UK and take heart. Our side is making gains. Each day, animal rights activists have something good to show for their efforts. We're gaining traction. Our ends are noble. Our fight won't end until the life of every animal is respected.

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