Britain is likely to see more intensive factory farms, according to the industry, to keep costs down after leaving the EU – increasing animal welfare issues and pressure on the countryside.
Campaigners and countryside groups have expressed concern over the future of British agriculture after Brexit, as small farms are likely to be replaced by so called megafarms – intensive units accommodating up to 1.5 million animals, which are common in the US but not in Europe.
Post-Brexit scenario would see UK farmers trying to lower the cost of meat production and meet self-sufficiency, a move that could dramatically worsen rural landscape, animal welfare and the environment.
Tim Bonner, CEO of the Countryside Alliance, commented, “As the UK develops post-Brexit rural policy it is vital that we remember that in many parts of the country, farms are not just businesses. Entire cultural landscapes rely on traditional smaller farm units and future policy must conserve all the benefits they bring.”
A recent investigation revealed that there are already almost 800 megafarms in the UK – a 26% increase over the past six years.
Claire Bass, UK executive director of Humane Society International (HSI) added, “A Brexit-fuelled acceleration in megafarms would be terrible news for people, the environment and, of course, animals. These intensive farms are also extremely harmful to the environment, causing serious damage through ammonia emissions and water pollution.”
“HSI aims to prevent the spread of megafarms by making sure existing animal welfare laws are protected and enhanced as Britain leaves the EU.”
Recently, environment secretary Michael Gove said that subsidies for agriculture after Brexit will have to be earned and will go to farmers protecting the environment first.
Photo: US Department of Agriculture via Flickr