Part 8 - Farming at a critical crossroads
Professor Charles Godfray, a food policy expert from Oxford University said it was not as simple as saying intensive farms were bad and small ones were good.
"It’s much more about how you do it,” he said. “There are intensive operations which are horrible, and others which are good examples of how to look after animals well and get good outcomes.”
“You have the most excellent free range examples and other poorly-managed and poorly-led operations.”
The Bureau asked the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to comment on the rise of intensive farming in the UK and how the future might look, but it did not respond to our findings.
It did say the government would “not compromise on our high animal welfare or environmental standards,” and it would “always protect our proud and varied farming traditions.”
Leaving the EU offered “an unprecedented opportunity to shape our farming industry so it works for the UK,” said Defra.
Dan Crossley of the thinktank Food Ethics Council thinks that Brexit leaves us at a critical juncture. "Will our government seek free trade deals at any cost, lowering standards and ramping up intensive farming? Or will the UK push for a ‘race to the top’ on animal welfare standards, environmental protection and workers’ rights?"
The UK has to do some “hard thinking” about how we want our food to be produced, said Lamb, the Norfolk MP.
“It’s easy to condemn the producers but the vast majority of people eat meat," he said. “‘We need to have a national debate about whether we can justify the methods to deliver cheap food. I can choose between organic meat and cheap meat. But people on low incomes might struggle to make that choice within their weekly budgets.”