Last week we attended the 2016 Oxford Real Farming Conference – a two-day gathering of UK sustainable food and farming movements, offering attendees the opportunity to connect with other farmers and hear from experts in the field.
Compassion’s new report
The conference, which was attended by influential figures in farming and agriculture, including Shadow Environment Secretary Kerry McCarthy and journalist George Monbiot, was a fantastic platform to launch Compassion’s new report, Cheap Food Costs Dear.
The report explores the impact of factory farming on people and the planet as well as the cost of industrial livestock production. In compiling the report, Peter Stevenson, our Chief Policy Advisor said: “The essential purpose is to highlight the deep concerns and imbalance surrounding factory farming.
“It’s important we remain acutely conscious of the long term and potentially irreversible impact the rearing of animals on an industrial scale has on our health and environment.”
Far-reaching negative consequences
The bleak conditions imposed on factory farmed animals are far too often justified by the claim that this gives us cheap food. But scratch the surface and you’ll soon find that in order to have meat at an acceptable price we not only have to treat the animal appallingly, but the planet too.
The industrial production of livestock has far-reaching negative consequences, including impaired human health, environmental degradation, greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution and loss of biodiversity. These crucial issues summarise a major flaw in the true cost of meat production and the vulnerability of the planet when it comes to industrial scale animal rearing.
Opposing factory farming
During the conference our CEO, Philip Lymbery, hosted a panel of experts - Peter Stevenson, Tim Lang, and Charlie Clutterbuck - arguing ‘The Case Against Intensive Livestock Production’.
While discussing the negative impact of intensive farming at the conference, Tim Lang, Professor of Food and Policy at City University, said: “We need to put the ‘culture’ back in agriculture.” A mantra that we at Compassion can get behind!
Working towards a solution
A considerable amount of work has already been carried out to quantify and value the negative effects cheap meat production has on the planet, but there is so much more to be done.
We need to support farmers who choose higher welfare systems and reduce environmental damage. Consumers can do this by purchasing pasture-fed, free range or organic products.
Read the full Cheap Food Costs Dear report here.