Have your say on government e-petitions

Take action to end factory farming and reduce meat and dairy consumption

Submitted by Emily Wilson on Friday 3rd July 2020

Published on Monday 3rd August 2020

Current status: Open

Open until: Wednesday 3rd February 2021

Current Signatures: 35,331
(count is updated approximately hourly)

Relevant Departments

Tagged with

climate change ~ Dairy ~ Government ~ IMPACT ~ Tax ~ The Government

Petition Action

Take action to end factory farming and reduce meat and dairy consumption

Petition Details

In order to improve public health, combat climate change and reduce animal suffering, the Government should:

1. Commit to end factory farming, starting by phasing out existing ‘megafarms'.
2. Set a target of a 50% reduction in meat and dairy consumption by 2030 and impose taxes to achieve this.

Additional Information

Factory farming can spread disease and cause animal suffering and is contributing to climate change, with over 37% of methane emissions originating from factory farming.

Meat and dairy consumption can also negatively impact human health, and WHO has classified processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogen.

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Government Response

The Government responded to this petition on Tuesday 17th November 2020

Adopting best practice across all farming systems is crucial to delivering net zero. Stockmanship and good husbandry, in all sizes and systems of production, are key to ensuring high animal welfare.

Factory farming

The Government promotes efficient, competitive farming, but does not seek to favour large or small-scale farms. There are a number of different farming systems in use within the UK and farms of all sizes have a role to play in promoting sustainable agriculture. Increasing the size of herds does not necessarily equate to lower animal health or welfare standards. All farms must comply with comprehensive UK law on animal health and welfare, planning, veterinary medicines and environmental legislation. Stockmanship and high husbandry standards are key to ensuring high welfare standards for all farmed animals.

In the UK, we can be justly proud that we have amongst the highest standards of animal welfare in the world. We are developing an Animal Health and Welfare Pathway which will promote the production of healthier, higher welfare animals. Improving animal health underpins the welfare of farmed animals; reduces greenhouse gas emissions; slows the rise of anti-microbial resistance; better protects farmers and the public from the economic impacts of disease; and helps demonstrate a commitment to rising standards of animal health and welfare to our current and future trading partners across the world.

Meat and dairy consumption

The National Food Strategy independent review will advise the government on how we can best enable the food system to provide sustainable food and support healthy diets for everyone. Part One of the National Food Strategy was published on 29 July and contained seven recommendations covering financial support for children in low income families, governance on food vulnerability, and trade. A further report will follow in 2021, examining our food system as a whole, to ensure everyone has access to healthy, affordable food that is sustainably produced. We will be carefully considering the findings of this report and will be responding with a white paper within six months of the final publication.

As the first major economy to legislate for Net Zero by 2050, targeting greenhouse gases is a priority for this Government. We are clear that adapting best practice across all farming systems is a crucial part of this. The cornerstone of our new agricultural policy, the Environmental Land Management Scheme, will support farmers to deliver environmental public goods by paying them public money to do so. Additionally, measures in the Agriculture Bill, the National Food Strategy and the 25 Year Environment Plan will enable farmers to optimise sustainable food production and reduce emissions.

The government advocates for a healthy balanced diet, based on the national food model the Eatwell Guide. Meat and dairy can both be an important part of a balanced diet. We are also clear that our diets should include more fibre, fruit and vegetables.

We have already seen significant progress in cutting emissions but there is more to be done across the economy, including in agriculture. We will work with our fantastic farmers to do this, acknowledging that well managed livestock provides environmental benefits including biodiversity, protecting the character of the countryside and generating important income for rural communities. We should be proud of our high quality; high welfare UK produce which is recognised around the world.

Next year we will host COP26, where we will be seeking to secure international action on climate change and biodiversity loss. This will include emphasising the role of nature-based solutions, such as our work to tackle illegal deforestation and promote sustainable supply chains.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/330298)

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