UP to 100 people attended a meeting on the proposed plans to build a giant pig farm in a village near Uttoxeter.
The meeting, jointly organised by The Soil Association and the Pig Business film team, saw scores of concerned residents and farmers cram into Burton’s Town Hall to hear about the potential development in Foston.
The gathering follows a submitted planning application by Midland Pig Producers (MPP) to build a mega-farm which would house 2,500 sows and 20,000 piglets. If the plan were to be given the green light, this would be one of the UK’s largest pig farms, with the average size of large-scale intensive pig farms in the UK currently resting between 500 and 900 sows.
Months of debate between MPP, animal welfare campaigners, environmental bodies, and farmers preceded the meeting, which drew the focus of the debate to the local residents — the people who will feel the impact of the mega farm on a daily basis if the plans were to go ahead.
Concerns were voiced on how their quality of life would be affected by the inevitable smells and noise pollution, and how the transportation of 1,000 pigs a week to slaughter would affect traffic in the area. Following the recent new stories connecting MRSA and E.coli with intensive farming, many people also expressed concerns about the potential health implications.
The Dark Side of Farming’, a short film produced by the company Pig Business, summarised the implications of antibiotic use in factory farms. The film, made by Marchioness Tracy Worcester, drew attention to the global implications of factory farming, animal welfare issues and health implications for pigs and humans associated with farming on such an intensive scale.
Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director, said at the event: “We are against the introduction of mega farms into the UK and our objections are largely based on health: the risks to pig health and indeed human health.
"There are real concerns that unless antibiotics are used more sparingly we’ll find a range of human disease that we just can’t treat. We’ll go back to a period — which none of us are old enough to remember — when all sorts of common diseases were lethal, and that’ll be true for animals as well as people.”
Jim Davies, a local activist who has been at the spearhead of the objections, said: “I haven’t got issues with MPP, but I have with what they’re proposing. It’s too big and it doesn’t need to be this size. The technology in all of this is really untried in the UK we are a great big guinea pig in Foston and we’re having it tested on us.”
Dominic West, star of the television show The Wire who grew up in the area, has also shown his support for the campaign.