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Superfarms are needed in the UK.


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http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jun/05/uk-needs-super-farms-says-nfu

 

The president of the National Farmers Union believes the UK needs more and bigger "super farms" to keep food prices from rising too high and to maintain high animal welfare standards.

 

Peter Kendall gave his views as figures reportedly showed that the lack of farmland in Britain was now as acute as the shortfall in China.

 

We do need more farms, ideally we should be self sufficient in food.

 

Even the biggest UK farms are dwarfed by the mega farms of other countries. In the US, farms with 10,000 pigs are not uncommon and Saudi Arabia has a super dairy with a herd of 37,000.

 

But surely lots more small/medium sized ones, are better than a few large ones...

 

Kendall said the UK was about 62% self-sufficient in the food it could produce overall and 40% self-sufficient with regard to pork – so there was "plenty of scope" for big producers while still leaving room for smaller ones.

 

At the heart of Kendall's defence of super farms is his belief that bigger farms are more profitable (or less loss-making) so can afford better equipment, more space and experts able "to protect the environment and animals".

 

He highlighted the Foston application, from Midland Pig Producers, which proposed building an abattoir near the farm so the pigs would not have to travel far to slaughter.

 

The plan was also to fit equipment to trap ammonia and other gasses to protect local residents and to generate "renewable" electricity and heat. The applicants had promised to achieve the RSPCA's Freedom Food accreditation for animal welfare.

 

I can see lots of pig farms springing up. We currently produce pork very cheaply, and export a lot of it! We export pork to the USA for example and the volume of our exports are increasing. We also export to China and are looking to increase our exports.

(At the same time we also import the majority of the pork we consume, from the likes of Denmark, Holland, Germany and Belgium.)

 

Using the waste for electricity and chemicals makes sense.

 

I think on-site abattoirs are a good thing, save the pigs the unnecessary journey. But I think having smaller farms/abattoirs is probably better for the animal welfare.

 

Come January 1st when EU 2001/88/EC comes into force pork prices will no doubt rise as production falls.

 

I'd like to see more allotments, and for them, along with small farms, to be incorporated into new housing estates.

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I am often wary of anything the NFU says, they seem such a contrary organisation.

Admittedley, it's not something I could claim to be an expert on, but haven't farmers been banging on for years about being squeezed by supermarkets, to the detriment of livestock and sustainability?

 

If the majority of farms in the UK are small and the NFU speaks for the majority of it's members then surely that would mean the majority (or a substantial percentage, at least) would be happy to be merged/taken over/bought out, or even priced out.

 

I can't see that being the case.

 

I suspect the NFU is being guided by some financial institution or other, in order to pave the way for the further monopolisation of food production. Maybe the big players in the industry have already made plans to carve up the countryside and swallow their smaller competitors, I don't know.

 

Either way, we must not be fooled by the argument that we will all benefit.

 

Intensification is deeply flawed - because the savings made in the production of the food are wiped out by the costs of distribution and the shocking waste that occurs at each stage.

 

And the argument that it creates jobs in logistics is phoney too. These jobs are non productive and are not energy efficient.The only winners will be the cartels. They will be able to set their prices without fear of serious competition, thus ensuring their profits are maintained, until the next crisis at least.

 

I'm with chem1st on this one. Local is the way to go. More productive jobs, better education for our kids on where our food comes from, local affordable markets for everybody (not just middle class wannabee eco warriors who look down on the rest of us because they can afford to pay £15 for a chicken), and better tasting food.

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It's near impossible for the UK to be self sufficient for food & it isn't something we should be aiming for either. We haven't been self sufficient for food since the industrial revolution & the population boom it caused.

 

You can't argue against farm subsidies & big landowners, argue for more housebuilding, then say we need to be self sufficient for food. Large farms have economies of scale making them much more efficient, they're easier to mechanise & they can get more use from the mechanical equipment they buy. Lots of small farmers would duplicate the overheads. Taken to extremes it'd take us back to everybody having to work on the land, grow & hand pick our own food, and give up our usual jobs to get the time. I don't want to be a subsistence farmer, thanks.

 

On site abattoirs combined with smaller farms means you need many more abattoirs than you otherwise would, it increases costs.

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I’m not convinced about allotments because the two near me are mostly used to grow weeds, there appears to be very little produce in the ground and there’s no one at the side of the road selling like they used to years ago.

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People should be forced to give up their allotments if they aren't maintained. There maybe some need for some more allotments, there are waiting lists. It's important socially to allow people who want to a bit of land to grow food, but allotments wont ever provide all the country's food, or even a meaningful proportion of it.

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It's one of those things, if it could be done well and served the population it would be great. doing things on a large scale should in theory be more efficient. concentrate it in one area and leave the rest of the countryside relatively undisturbed.

 

however in reality there will be people at the top looking for profit, so like you say, it will be exported while we import, and just generally get messed up.

 

imo we need a combo really. areas of industrial farming to produce grains and veg, to keep prices steady, then use livestock as grazing animals more widespread and on rotation as a lower impact method of producing meat and keeping scrub at bay in the countryside.

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It's near impossible for the UK to be self sufficient for food & it isn't something we should be aiming for either. We haven't been self sufficient for food since the industrial revolution & the population boom it caused.
To the contrary.

 

You can't argue against farm subsidies & big landowners, argue for more housebuilding, then say we need to be self sufficient for food. Large farms have economies of scale making them much more efficient, they're easier to mechanise & they can get more use from the mechanical equipment they buy. Lots of small farmers would duplicate the overheads. Taken to extremes it'd take us back to everybody having to work on the land, grow & hand pick our own food, and give up our usual jobs to get the time. I don't want to be a subsistence farmer, thanks.

 

Large farms have economies of scale which make them labour productive. But they are not land productive. We can produce more food from the land, but you are right, it will cost more, in terms of labour at least, be we have record unemployment, so labour is plentiful. Increased mechanisation and labour saving devices can also be used on small farms.

 

On site abattoirs combined with smaller farms means you need many more abattoirs than you otherwise would, it increases costs.

A long as the cost of transporting the pigs for slaughter is cheaper than the overheads for many small abattoirs. Personally I think it better for animal slaughter to be localised. Small slaughterhouses with meat for local market are a totally different kettle of fish to the large slaughterhouses where 24/7 slaughter occurs, and apathy breeds (That's just an opinion though). To have to slaughter continually is a burden no man should have to bare, after slaughtering for hours you're going to get bored and become a little inventive to pass the time - it is of no surprise people working in these conditions start torturing the animals.

 

Wrt food self sufficiency, building pig farms to export pork isn't going to help, meat is of course, very land intensive, but if we are feeding them on grain from Russia... it won't matter so much here wrt land use. It is probably cheaper to import the grain and rear pigs here, than to import pigs reared close to the grain.

 

To improve land use we need more small farms, that are land productive (at the expense of labour productivity).

 

Please note the "inverse relationship between farm size and productivity" that exists. And remember that whilst large farms are labour productive, thy are not land productive.

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To the contrary.

 

 

 

Large farms have economies of scale which make them labour productive. But they are not land productive. We can produce more food from the land, but you are right, it will cost more, in terms of labour at least, be we have record unemployment, so labour is plentiful. Increased mechanisation and labour saving devices can also be used on small farms.

 

We could produce more food from the land than we do using large farms & more technology.

 

A better idea might be to produce other stuff instead & import food.

 

A long as the cost of transporting the pigs for slaughter is cheaper than the overheads for many small abattoirs.

 

If it wasn't then they'd build more smaller abattoirs closer to farms, because it'd be cheaper. Capitalism is quite good at sorting out economic inefficiencies like that.

 

Personally I think it better for animal slaughter to be localised. Small slaughterhouses with meat for local market are a totally different kettle of fish to the large slaughterhouses where 24/7 slaughter occurs, and apathy breeds (That's just an opinion though). To have to slaughter continually is a burden no man should have to bare, after slaughtering for hours you're going to get bored and become a little inventive to pass the time - it is of no surprise people working in these conditions start torturing the animals.

 

It might be better for animal welfare, but it's going to be less efficient in terms of land, labour & money.

 

Wrt food self sufficiency, building pig farms to export pork isn't going to help, meat is of course, very land intensive, but if we are feeding them on grain from Russia... it won't matter so much here wrt land use. It is probably cheaper to import the grain and rear pigs here, than to import pigs reared close to the grain.

 

To improve land use we need more small farms, that are land productive (at the expense of labour productivity).

 

It depends on your definition of 'improving land use', that's quite a subjective thing. If you're going by gdp per m3 then it's probably better to build offices or a factory rather than a farm. You know that parts of Africa starve because they can't afford to run farms, because they can't export food to Europe, because of CAP? Importing more food would improve land use worldwide, we'd benefit from cheaper food (when you take account of subsidy payments) & they wouldn't be starving, they'd have their first step on the road to economic development. Subsidised food kills farms in countries that can't afford to subsidise their farms, for every £1 spent on subsidies £10 is lost to the global economy.

 

Please note the "inverse relationship between farm size and productivity" that exists. And remember that whilst large farms are labour productive, thy are not land productive.

 

Labour productivity is important too, people could be more productive if they weren't doing manual jobs on the farm/allotment.

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