Hundreds of campaigners are expected to attend a march in protest of Midland Pig Producers’ proposed ‘mega-farm’ in Foston in Derbyshire.
Protestors are set to march through Derby city centre on Saturday (13 August) to show their concerns about the proposed 2,500-sow unit, which they claim will devastate traditional farming practices.
Campaigners are also concerned about the effects the unit could have on the environment, as well as the welfare of the pigs housed in the unit.
About 13,000 people are reported to have signed letters objecting to the pig farm proposal.
Foston locals have also set up a Facebook page opposing the zero-grazing farm, while celebrities including The Wire star Dominic West and Emmerdale cast members have all spoken out against the farm.
Campaigners said the development – which is due to go before Derbyshire County Council planners in the autumn – would see 20,000 pigs “crammed into narrow crates” and denied access to natural light.
They also said the unit could increase the risk of disease to those living around Foston as flies and cockroaches carrying antibiotic-resistant bacteria from the farm could be found miles away from the unit.
“The bacteria are resistant to antibiotics because farmers overuse the drugs to fatten up their livestock,” one protest group added.
“In the Foston pig farm where profit is all, the potential for excessive use of antibiotics is huge.”
But James Leavesley, of Midland Pig Producers, said the criticisms being levelled at the plans were “beyond remarkable”.
“The reason 95% of people use antibiotics on any animal farm is because of respiratory problems caused by ammonia.
“Our system flushes the building out every 48 hours before the ammonia is built up and the buildings are constantly being revived with fresh air, so the pigs are not exposed to ammonia.
He said by using a similar system on another of MPP’s pig farms, the unit went without using antibiotics for eight years.
“Going down the route that we use antibiotics as normal is a lot of rot and bunkham. We just don’t.
“We look for the cause of the use and the change that so we don’t put the animals in that situation.
“But pressure groups don’t choose to read the planning application where the detail lies and instead spread messages to scare people.
Mr Leavesley said that within the next month, MPP would embark on a campaign to respond to some of the allegations being made by groups.
“We will be working over the next few weeks to correct the misinformation that’s being put out there,” he added.