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is big bad?

Former CSA John Beddington famously described the future as a perfect storm of climate change, population growth and food shortages and called on scientists to use all the tools in the box to tackle the great challenges. But is larger more intensive farming part of the problem or the solution? From the Archers to the popular media intensive farming has a bad name with plenty of assumptions about poor animal welfare and putting commercial gain above environmental damage. Inspired by a meeting called ‘Is Big Bad?’ at the Roslin Institute earlier this year, the SMC invited leading experts to brief journalists on the views of agricultural scientists and vets on this controversial area, answering questions such as:

  • Are big farms necessarily intensive?
  • Can big farms address the Five Freedoms for Animal Welfare?
  • Is “a life worth living” an attempt to move the animal welfare debate away from the scientifically validated Five Freedoms approach?
  • Do small traditional farms meet modern standards of animal welfare, pollution control and sustainability?
  • What is big in dairying?  50 cows? 500? 5000?
  • What is the wider context of the debate?



Prof Christine Nicol, Professor of Animal Welfare, University of Bristol

Annie Davis, veterinary practitioner to the pig industry and Chair, Pig Veterinary Society

Tim Brigstocke, Policy Director, The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) and Chairman, the GB Cattle Health and Welfare Group  (CHAWG).

Professor Toby Mottram, Royal Agricultural College

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