Compassion in World Farming reveals today that those behind the proposed 'mega-dairy' farm in Lincolnshire have applied for public money and stated that without it, both animal welfare and environmental standards on the farm will be lowered.
The Ecologist online features an exclusive story about the potential funding for Nocton Dairies, the proposed 'mega-dairy' where 8,100 cows would be housed indoors with very limited, if any, access to pasture.
Advocates of the proposed US-style factory dairy farm at Nocton have promoted the concept on the basis of its alleged outstanding animal welfare and environmental credentials.
But documents obtained by Compassion in World Farming under the Freedom of Information Act, show that Nocton Dairies Ltd is seeking funding for their proposed dairy under the Rural Development Regulation (CAP, Pillar 2 which is funded by taxpayer's money). The documentation shows that without this funding, the owners say that they may only be able to meet the minimum environmental and animal welfare standards.
These documents, submitted to East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA) earlier this year, showed Nocton Dairies seeking an undisclosed sum to part-fund the development of a 8,100 cow dairy unit at Nocton in Lincolnshire which, if approved, will become the UK's largest intensive dairy farm.
Within the EMDA application Nocton Dairies admit that if no or reduced levels of Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) funds are obtained:
'...enhancements to cattle housing and parlours such as honeycomb grooving to concrete floors would not be adopted; water abstraction rights sharing arrangements may not be adopted; waste handling could revolve around lorry based movement and spreading of untreated slurry. At the very least the anaerobic digester would be delayed to a second phase of development.'
Pat Thomas, who leads Compassion in World Farming's Nocton campaign, said:
"RDPE funds are intended to promote objectives such as environmental benefits, improved animal welfare and the development of thriving rural communities. They are not intended to support factory farming, where animals are housed in cramped conditions and fed on unnatural diets, both of which can lead to substantial illness and suffering. In the case of dairy cows this can mean lameness, mastitis, loss of body condition, infertility, exhaustion and premature death.
"On this issue public opinion is very clear- people don't want factory farmed milk. According to a recent MORI poll more than 60% would reject it at the supermarket, so why make people pay for it by stealth through taxes?
Thomas added, "It is scandalous that the welfare of these cows is being used as a ransom to get taxpayers' money in order to make very minimal improvements to an unsustainable factory farm.
"Compassion's view is that we don't want to abandon our traditional images of the farm in favour of a factory where cows are treated like products on a conveyor belt. Together with the help of its supporters Compassion in World Farming is prepared to put its skills, creativity and money into solutions that genuinely protect farm animal welfare and the environment."
For more on our Nocton Dairy campaign click here