WI decision on mega farm stance looms

Members of the Women’s Institute have just hours left to decide whether opposing large-scale farms should become official WI policy.

A resolution, due to be debated at the WI’s annual meeting in Liverpool on Wednesday (8 June), proposes that the group “abhors the practice of factory farming, particularly large animals such as pigs and cows.”

The controversial resolution, proposed by the Dilton Marsh branch in Wiltshire, goes on to urge the government to “ensure planning permission is not granted for such projects”.

If it is passed, the proposal will be come a mandate and will form the basis of WI campaigning in the coming years.

The meeting is due to be addressed by NFU president Peter Kendall who will argue that there are myths around large scale farming that need tackling.

He will put the case for a debate based on “based on the facts rather than scare stories and emotive language”.

Ahead of the conference, farmers and NFU staff members have attended more than 100 WI meetings in a bid to answer questions about the implications of large-scale farms and to encourage constructive debate around the subject.

Opposing Mr Kendall will be Soil Association director Helen Browning who will argue that many non-organic farmers and groups – including the Environment Agency – have concerns about large-scale animal production units.

“We need to ensure that we’re clear on the future direction for farming they imply, and avoid sleep-walking into a situation that neither the public nor most farmers want,” she said in a blog post

“This means an open debate about how we grow our food, what we eat, and how we ensure a fair outcome for all, now and in the future.”