Pig Business the Film

Pig Business: The True Cost of Cheap Food

Pig Business investigates the rise of factory pig farming in America & Europe. This industrial farming system threatens human health through dangerous overuse of antibiotics, wrecks rural economies and communities, pollutes the environment and abuses animals. The resulting profits line the pockets of just a handful of massive corporations and their powerful lobbyists, putting local farmers out of business.


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Translations: Bulgarian, Czech, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovenian, Spanish, Ukrainian

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TV Choice

Pig Business the Full Tail

The launch of the Pig Business, The Full Tail – an uncensored version of Pig Business – was released in Spring 2020 as US pork giant Smithfield Foods (featured in the documentary) slaughtered 10,000 pigs stricken with African Swine Fever in a factory farm in Poland, and closed its packing facility in South Dakota where 700+ workers tested positive for COVID-19. Where Smithfield Foods sowed bad karma of cruel treatment of pigs and sick workers and neighbours, so they now reap the consequences.


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BBC World originally rejected Pig Business for fear of litigation, but Channel 4 agreed to air it. When Smithfield got wind of this in 2008, they instructed a London lawyer to threaten Channel 4 with a libel action if they dared go ahead with the broadcast. Channel 4 hired a specialist libel lawyer to alter the film to ensure it was protected from the very corporate-friendly libel laws that prevailed in the UK at the time. In 2013 the law was changed so that now a profit-making entity must prove serious financial loss before it can sue for damages.

Though Channel 4 did broadcast the film, Smithfield’s threats to sue them resulted in scores of important testimonials being removed. I am now publishing the Pig Business ‘The Full Tail – uncensored version’ film that contains those powerful extracts as they are as relevant today as they were back in 2009. The arrival of African Swine Fever in their farm in Poland and the rates of COVID-19 in their processing house proves that their dangerous businesses practices have not changed despite the suffering and diseases that locals have complained about for decades.

Below are some of the statements that have returned into the Director’s cut.

  1. Polish Minister for Agriculture; ‘Often they try to keep the inspectors out of the farms altogether. The owners use various legal loopholes and tricks……to stop vets entering the farms’. Why was this removed? In a libel court in the UK we would have to prove that this happened repeatedly and on specific farms on specific dates’
  2. Smithfield former farm worker; ‘The doctor asked where I worked before… and I said on the pig farm… He said I simply breathed all those fumes and my lungs couldn’t cope. He said my lungs had shrunk day by day. I’ve damaged my lungs and there was no cure.’‘When there was an inspection, we were told to remove all the treatment charts and when they’d gone we hung them up again. If the inspectors should ask us questions we were instructed to say we were only cleaners…and that the vet was doing all the treatment not us.’ Why was this removed? No workers were allowed to be used in the film
  3. Smithfield former farm worker ‘Most people are sick but hide it for fear of losing their jobs. They come from local villages. The problem is the microclimate… which contains concentrated… hydrogen, sulphate, nitrogen… and other poisonous substances.’‘…because of the large amount of pigs, we found many sick pigs during our routine rounds, so we would give medicines all the time”. Why was this removed? No workers were allowed to be in the film. Smithfield might argue that we cannot prove specific cases with medical records, although 25%-30% of factory pig farm workers suffer permanent lung damage.
  4. Neighbour of the Wiekowice pig factory; ‘The gasses from the farm have been tested. A certified company called Atma conducted the research. This was paid for by the county mayor. The results showed the pollution was up to 30 times above the recommended guidelines’. Why was this removed? They had to be able to prove that these gasses are emitted every day.
    Each day’s test cost £1,100 so the local mayor could only afford one test
  5. Robert F Kennedy Jr: ‘They can’t raise hogs with this kind of cruelty unless they give them lots of antibiotics, sub-therapeutic antibiotics. The United States dept of agriculture just made a study that said that every one of these facilities puts out 1 billion antibiotic-resistant bacteria every day that crosses the property line and threatens the health of people who live down-wind of those facilities and the herds of animals that live down-wind of those facilities’.’They can’t produce a pork chop cheaper than a family farmer without breaking the law.’ Why was this removed? Can’t use Robert Kennedy unless he is speaking in the senate

With global trade, pig farming has to compete with global ‘vertically integrated’ giants like Smithfield Foods that own both pig production and processing to reap the profit from the entire system. Their monopoly enables them to push down the prices of pork and so bankrupt independent pig producers and their contract farmers and externalise their true polluting costs onto the broader community. Local diseases are now proving to be global. The power is in our hands. We can prevent these diseases by only buying meat from local small scale family farms where animals are treated as sentient beings not industrial raw materials.

Pig Business in Canada

Pig Business in Chile

This film tells the story of the residents of Freirina, Chile, who fought the corporate giant AGROSUPER and succeeded in shutting down the largest factory pig farm in the world.


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Pig Business in Chile is also available to watch in Latin-American Spanish »

The story of the residents of Freirina

Tracy Worcester, founder of Farms Not Factories and producer of the film Pig Business which exposes the dangers of intensive pig farming, has just returned (December 2012) from filming in Chile. Her visit coincided with the brutal suppression of a local protest against a mega factory farm owned by giant Chilean food conglomerate Agrosuper. On her return to the UK, it was reported that Agrosuper had announced it was going to permanently close the facility.


Agrosuper is the largest pork producer in Chile and controls 68% of the country’s pork production. Agrosuper also exports over 20,000 tonnes of meat each year, primarily to Japan, South Korea, the European Union and Mexico. The company has a long history of conflicts including fines, anti-union actions and collusion in order to raise prices. Environmental legislation experts agree that the law has continuously been tailor-made to suit these large corporations over smaller traditional methods of animal rearing. Agrosuper receives millions in subsidies from the government through carbon emissions trading every year. For a factory pig farm complex such as that at Freirina, they would receive around $12 million US dollars per year through government subsidies.



1000km north of Santiago, Freirina is one of the last green frontiers of Chile, before the terrain turns completely into desert. Sadly, the people here have suffered great environmental problems due to massive industrial investment in the region. This includes Barrick Gold in the mountains, a huge power plant and iron industry on the coast (watch this 3min video highlighting the problems). Freirina is right in the middle of all this. The whole valley survives thanks to the Huasco river, which gets increasingly polluted and less affluent every day. Agrosuper is accused of using wells (which they have built without permits), and taking water from underground water reserves. which they deny.


Freirina pig factory

In May 2012 local residents complained about the smell that was emanating from the pig effluent within the factory pig farms. Riots broke out and access roads were blocked. Agrosuper workers abandoned the plant on safety grounds, which left 500,000 pigs unattended within the plant.

Chilean Health Minister, Jamie Manalich said, ‘[The pigs] have stopped receiving food, there is no sanitation, their waste is not being disposed of and we understand there is high mortality among the animals, particularly the young piglets…the waste overflow could contaminate area drinking water and could be a grave danger for the population’ .

Chilean authorities declared a state of emergency, stepping in to help Agrosuper control the situation. According to the BBC, the company was burying the corpses of the dead pigs in specially prepared pits and the site was being disinfected. Agrosuper was given six months to evacuate all the pigs, but demonstrators said it still had 270,000 animals in the plant in the beginning of November.

Freirina map

Farms Not Factories’ Director, Tracy Worcester, Hails Closure of Chilean Pig Factory

Faced with nationwide disgust at the violence against the residents, and a statement by the Chilean Ministry of the Environment that Agrosuper would have to comply with environmental regulations, the company announced on December 10th that it had decided to ‘indefinitely close the agro-industrial complex’ and said it regretted recent events.

Tracy believes it’s not only a local success, but “also a victory in the global war against this flawed factory pig farming system.

“When investors see that communities have the power to close such a huge factory, they might think twice about expanding or building new pig factories.”

Last May the Chilean government ordered the factory to close after campaigners blockaded the site. However six months later it announced that after all the huge complex could stay open.

Freirina blockade

So in November, Farms Not Factories went to film the Freirina community’s renewed struggle against the largest pig factory farm in South America.

On 25th November, the date by which the Minister of Health had said all the pigs must leave the factory farm, it still housed 210,000 pigs. In protest hundreds of local residents dressed in mourning staged a funeral to mark the death of their valley.

A coffin followed by a candlelit procession was carried to the main square and set on fire. At midnight the main road was temporarily blocked by burning tyres and the night sky glowed red from a fire started in a eucalyptus plantation.

Then in the early morning of 6th December demonstrators set up blockades to prevent the Agrosuper feed lorries and workers reaching the complex. The government’s special forces, already waiting on Agrosuper’s property, attacked with military vehicles equipped with high volume tear-gas canons.


Before dawn, Yahir Rojas, a schoolteacher and one of the spokespersons for the community movement was illegally abducted and beaten unconscious by Agrosuper guards. He was transferred to intensive care and is thankfully recovering but this highlights the brutality of a company that resorts to violence against its opponents.

Triumph for an organised community

No doubt worried by the bad publicity attracted by this violence, Agrosuper is promising to close the plant, giving the reason of ‘being unable to fulfill environmental considerations’. Cesar Orellana, the newly elected Mayor of Freirina, said ‘This is a triumph for an organised community’.

Freirina rally

Pig Business in Ecuador

Tracy Worcester investigates how giant pork producer Pronaca, supported by $50 million loan from the World Bank, pollutes rivers and contaminates local villages with toxic stench.

Spanish voice-over

English subtitles

PRONACA is the largest pork producer in Ecuador and has continued to grow assisted by World Bank loans of over $50 million administered by the International Finance Corporation (IFC). It has received further funds through the UN Clean Development Mechanism for having installed bio-digesters although the methane collected is burnt off and not used as an energy source.

In the province of Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, in central Ecuador, PRONACA operates 14 intensive factory pig farms, all adjacent to rivers which are contaminated by untreated pig waste. For over ten years local residents have been complaining about illnesses caused by foul odours emanating from the densely packed pig farms, skin diseases caused by river pollution and soil contamination. They also complain that many of the pig farms are operating without environmental licenses and that nearby buffer forests have been cleared.

Beatriz Andrade, leading Ecuadorian campaigner said, “The facts shown in the film Pig Business, with the inclusion of the situation in Ecuador, will strengthen the case for those affected by the factory farm, PRONACA, to put pressure on our regulatory authorities about the right to access to clean water. This film will help to generate public opinion for national and international citizens so that they really know how things are, so they know the dark side of the company and the destruction it generates.”

Ilario Signori Pastorin, local citizen and hotel owner, Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, said, “My health, relationships with my family and my finances have been destroyed by the constant attacks and persistence of this company [PRONACA] over 10 years and I will never recover what was lost.”

Pig Business in Germany

Der Film Pig Business zeigt, wie industrielle Schweinemastanlagen Anwohner mit schädlichem Gestank krank machen, ländliche Gebiete zerstören, die menschliche Gesundheit durch überdosierte Antibiotika gefährden sowie den Boden und das Grundwasser vergiften. Zudem werden die Tiere misshandelt, indem sie in überfüllte Ställe und Stahlkäfige gesperrt werden, in denen sie sich nicht einmal mehr umdrehen können.

In Berlin in January 2013 we filmed a march of 25,000 against factory farming, and followed a group of protestors back to their village where a Dutch pork producer Adriaan Straathof has opened a huge factory pig farm, one of seven he owns in East Germany.

In the Netherlands the public is demanding an end to the growth of factory farms, therefore Straathof has expanded into East Germany to take advantage of cheap labour and ineffective law enforcement. Instead of giving jobs to local people as promised, he employs low- wage immigrants. Pig waste is dumped on surrounding farm land, grabbed after re-unification by corporate investors who are now running highly mechanised farms, depriving locals of land and livelihoods and polluting the air and water.

However, there are still some local sustainable pig farms that have survived. Mirjam and Jan Bartholdy raise their pigs in woodland and sell the pork twice a week in a farmers’ market in Berlin. Their customers tell us that they buy the meat from their pigs because they are raised outdoors in natural surroundings, live healthy and active lives and need no antibiotics.

Pig Business in Hungary

Intensive pig farming spreads from the USA and Holland to Hungary where, supported by public money, it causes illness in neighbours, pollutes the water and destroys rural livelihoods. In Northern Hungary local opposition halts a giant Dutch factory farm project before it is completed.

The number of pigs in Hungary has dropped dramatically from 10 million in the eighties to only 3.2 million today. Small farmers were unable to compete with cheap imports which tripled between 2003 and 2006. Pig farming in Hungary is increasingly dominated by Dutch-owned factory farms that rely on imported feed and poorly enforced environmental regulations.

A Compassion in World Farming investigation in 2008 reported that 70% of the farms they visited were breaking the EU Directive on the Welfare of Pigs by routine tail docking and failing to provide enhancement material such as straw.

In June 2011 we filmed an interview with the Mayor of Ujlengyel who supports local opposition to a planned Dutch-owned factory farm, and has taken the case to the district court.

We also filmed in Kornye where locals complain that their lives are ruined by the overpowering stench from the Dutch-owned pig farm a few metres upwind from their houses.

A citizens’ group is actively campaigning to prevent completion of another farm near Kornye owned by Dutch investor Adrian Straathof. The factory farm is only partly built as its permit was revoked during construction because local farmers refused to agree that the waste could be spread on their land.

We filmed several interviews with a farmer who plans to raise a few hundred pigs on a traditional straw based system, and who is campaigning, along with other small farmers, against the Straathof meat factory.

A recent report by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, encouraging Dutch factory pig farm investors to build abroad, says, ‘The pig supply chain in Hungary offers ample opportunities for investors with western management.’

However, Prof Angyan from the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture says that it is not only investment opportunities that are attracting the Dutch, there are considerable push factors forcing them to move their operations from the Netherlands. These include expensive labour, expensive land, complex planning procedures, environmental and health regulations, and local resistance by Dutch citizens and NGOs.

Pig Business in Latvia

Pig Business filmed in Latvia from 1st to 12th November 2012 at the request of Ines Bartusevica who has started a well-organised campaign against the environmental damage and loss of local livelihoods caused by the concentration of factory pig farms in the Southern regions of the country.

A Danish farming ‘pioneer’ Alex Rasmussen has built a 15,000 pig mega farm just outside the village of Ritausmas where locals are poisoned by the overpowering stench, neighbouring fields contaminated with toxic waste and local farmers put out of business.

The campaign organisation has been formally acknowledged by the Ministry of Agriculture for Latvia, and a committee has been formed to hear complaints from local residents, submissions from doctors about the dangers of overusing antibiotics and from environmental health experts about the effects of the toxic gasses and antibiotic resistant organisms which escape from the site.

We filmed an interview with Alfred Rubiks, MEP, a member of the Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament, who has for many years expressed concerns about the globalisation of Latvia’s food production and the absurdity of exporting and importing pork at the same time. We need to make sure that some of this interview is in the film

His concerns include the large number of small family farms in Latvia which support rural communities, schools, villages and farmers’ markets which have been feeding the population with safe healthy food for generations and who now find themselves threatened by foreign investors whose methods are only profitable because they externalise costs onto the wider community, and expose humanity to the risk of more and more diseases becoming resistant to antibiotics.

Pig Business in Northern Ireland

Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland and Farms Not Factories have produced the film Pig Business in Northern Ireland to expose the true costs of pig factories on local peoples’ lives. Should planning permissions continue to be granted, emissions from thousands of pigs crammed into huge sheds and thousands of tonnes of slurry will damage local protected sites and ruin local peoples’ lives with the toxic stench. The overuse of antibiotics just to keep the pigs alive leads to antibiotic-resistant diseases that pass from pigs to humans.


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More on the film…

Pig Business Northern Ireland reveals how residents concerns were brushed aside when planning consent was granted for a new pig factory near Newtownabbey, outside Belfast. The scale of the project has shocked local residents who will be affected by noise, smell and pollution from the 15,000 intensively confined pigs.

Another application for what could be the biggest pig factory in the UK near Limavady has been held up because the additional slurry will impact seventeen protected sites nearby. Local residents are holding their breath while they wait to find out if the Northern Ireland Environment Agency will keep their nerve and refuse a permit.

The film, also available in a shorter 12-minute version, includes interviews with an ex-Minister for Agriculture, an ex-planning committee member, several Members of the Legislative Assembly (the Stormont parliament), renowned toxicologist Vyvyan Howard, famous folk musician Paddy Nash and many more who have been campaigning against the unpopular project. We also interview local small scale pig farmers who would grow in number if consumers only bought meat with a high animal welfare label.

The Issues

Maladministration & Corporate Control – “Going for Growth”

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is backing the agri industry-led strategy “Going for Growth” project, which aims to replace 26,000 family farms with 6,000 factory farms.

There appear to have been conflicts of interest in the conception and implementation of the Going For Growth strategy. The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Environment Agency (NIEA) have now combined and become the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Going For Growth, supported by DAERA, recommended an increase in indoor, industrial livestock production in animal factories which would increase levels of ammonia which are already impacting protected sites and habitats. “The two are not compatible in any way”, said John Dallat MLA when interviewed for the documentary film PIG BUSINESS IN NORTHERN IRELAND.

The increase in livestock numbers recommended by the Going for Growth strategy has the potential to generate £6.8 million pounds of additional pig feed sales per year for pig feed manufacturing companies.

1. (GFG Strategy report) https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/dard/going-for-growth.pdf

Pig Welfare – “A Living Hell for Pigs”

Limavady pig factory will house around 21,000 pigs at any one time and produce up to 81,000 pigs per year.

In natural conditions pigs are highly active, spending 75% of their day rooting, foraging and exploring. Condemned to a life of misery and squalor, such activities are impossible for factory farmed pigs.

In a UK factory farm, when mother pigs (sows) are due to give birth, they are moved to ‘farrowing crates’. These narrow, steel cages prevent the sows from turning around, severely restricting movement and frustrating the natural instincts to build a nest. The sows are also prevented from moving away, if for example the piglets bite at her teats. For this reason, it is common practice simply to routinely clip piglets’ teeth. Sows are usually moved to farrowing crates a week before giving birth and typically stay there day and night until the piglets are weaned, a total of 5 weeks in each pregnancy cycle. Piglets are weaned after just 3-4 weeks, instead of the 13-17 weeks as would be the case in the wild.

In some industrial, indoor systems weaned piglets are confined on bare concrete or slatted floors, and are unable to express their natural behaviours. Stress and conflict from overcrowding and lack of bedding often result in illnesses, so pigs are routinely given antibiotics. This contributes to antibiotic resistant diseases such as MRSA that pass from pigs to humans. Intensively confined pigs bite the tails of other pigs, and although sufficient fresh straw and adequate space would stop this, an estimated 94% of piglets in the EU have their tails illegally amputated (docked)1. The law in the UK says that tail docking can only be carried out if the reasons for the tail biting have been addressed, however these regulations are widely ignored.

There are alternatives to the conditions described above. Pork with high animal welfare labels RSPCA, Outdoor, Free Range or Organic are sourced from farms where pigs are outdoors – or indoors with plenty of bedding, space and fresh air – and are able to express natural behaviours such as running, rooting, nesting, wallowing and playing.

1. CiWF, (2013), Statistics: pigs

Impact on Local Residents – “Stench, Sickness & Disease”

A toxic brew of allergens, fungi, viruses, bacteria and antibiotic resistant bacteria that can spread for miles around.

People living near factory farms, and fields where the slurry is spread, are at greater risk of several health problems. The stench can cause respiratory problems, anxiety and depression and antibiotic resistant bacteria can be spread from the site by flies, in the air, or when the untreated slurry is sprayed onto fields.1

Even moderate levels of ammonia & low levels of hydrogen sulfide can irritate the eyes and respiratory tract while moderate levels of hydrogen sulfide can cause headaches, nausea, and dizziness4. A 2005 study found that people exposed to emissions from a factory pig farm were four times more likely to report headaches, six times more likely to report eye irritation and eight times more likely to report nausea5.

Around 45% of all antibiotics used in the UK are used on animals6, and around 25% are given to pigs mostly in animal factories. This overuse of antibiotics in factory farms for disease prevention allows resistant bacteria and resistance genes to spread from animals to humans through the food chain7. In 2015, the UK government’s Review on Antimicrobial Resistance identified the over-use of antibiotics in intensive livestock production as a major cause of the emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant human diseases, severely compromising treatment of human infections8,9.

Studies have identified antibiotic resistant bacteria, such as MRSA, in and around factory farms, including colonising the animals themselves and their manure1. One method by which these bacteria can spread in the environment is by other animals such as flies and rats2. Flies have been shown to act as vectors for a number of pathogens and can to travel up to 20 miles.3

Spreading animal waste on fields—a common method of disposal—presents further opportunities for microbial and chemical contaminants (e.g., nitrates, antibiotic residues and heavy metals) to be transported through the environment, including ground and surface waters. Exposure to all these contaminants contribute to the adverse health outcomes experienced by local residents, e.g. respiratory problems, MRSA colonisation and infection, increased stress and negative impacts on mood1.

1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs40572-015-0061-0
2. https://aem.asm.org/content/70/12/7578.full#ref-3
3. https://foodsecurecanada.org/sites/foodsecurecanada.org/files/pig_organic_pest_control.pdf
4. http://nasdonline.org/static_content/documents/48/d001616.pdf
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1257549/
6. https://www.ciwf.org.uk/media/7247793/antibiotics-alliance-40pp-report-2015.pdf
7. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/136454/e94889.pdf
8. https://amr-review.org/sites/default/files/Antimicrobials%20in%20agriculture%20and%20the%20environment%20-%20Reducing%20unnecessary%20use%20and%20waste.pdf
9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24959754

Anaerobic Digesters – “Powering the Country on Pig Waste”

The associated anaerobic digesters (ADs) are effectively doubling the amount of slurry needing to be spread on the surrounding land.

Northern Ireland is being inundated with planning applications for factory pig farms and their associated anaerobic digesters (ADs). Currently 179 applications have been passed in Northern Ireland for new ADs and 69 are already in operation. Financial subsidies such as the Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROC)8 have incentivised this unsustainable growth in large-scale ADs and factory pig farms.

One of the products of anaerobic digestion is a fertiliser referred to as ‘digestate’, which is rich in nitrogen in the form of ammonia1. This is causing excess nitrogen to be released into the surrounding environment with devastating consequences2,3,5. This is especially relevant for Northern Ireland whose ammonia levels are already four times higher than other countries in the UK4. Most of Northern Ireland, including priority habitats, are receiving levels of nitrogen which are significantly above their “critical load”, the concentration at which significant ecological damage occurs5.

Northern Ireland is responsible for 12% of UK ammonia emissions, despite only having 6% of the UK land area5. The recent growth in NI’s pig population has been a major contributor to this figure (the number of pigs in NI increased by 48% in the 10 years to 2016)6,7.

There is no environmentally friendly way of dealing with the huge volume of waste from such a high concentration of animal factories and that is why we need a moratorium on all NI factory farm proposals now9,10.

1. https://www.agriland.ie/farming-news/103-anaerobic-digestion-plants-approved-in-northern-ireland-as-ad-sector-booms/
2. https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/environmental-programmes/ro/about-ro
3. https://www.nnfcc.co.uk/publications/factsheet-anaerobic-digestion-june-2016
4. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69400/anaerobic-digestion-strat-action-plan.pdf
5. https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/53/4/341/250178
6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_impact_on_the_nitrogen_cycle
7. https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/ammonia-emissions-northern-ireland
8. https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/news/daera-outlines-progress-tackling-ammonia
9. https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/14000-sign-petition-opposing-northern-ireland-pig-farm-plan-36017090.html
10. https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/surge-in-mega-farms-sparks-northern-ireland-animal-welfare-concerns-35945108.html

Ammonia Emissions – “Polluting Pristine Environments”

Ammonia emissions in N.Ireland are now over 4 times higher than the rest of the UK. 77% of lakes and 47% of rivers in Northern Ireland are failing water quality standards.

Much of Northern Ireland’s beauty manifests itself in its stunning wildlife and pristine landscapes, yet, the implementation of Going for Growth and resulting increase in intensive livestock production is threatening the country’s environment and amenities;: water has become polluted by slurry, habitats are being threatened and scenic landscapes are being ruined by huge industrial livestock plants.

DAERA failed to undertake an Strategic Environmental Assessment prior to the implementation of the Going for Growth strategy.. Under Going For Growth, breeding sows are set to increase by 40% (to 52,000 breeding sows) by 2020; this equates to around 1.1m tonnes of slurry per year1. Such a dramatic increase in ammonia emissions will have a devastating impact on the environment. “We’ve polluted the water. There’s too much slurry from too many cows, too many pigs,as if it doesn’t matter about future generations”, says Ornithologist Chris Murphy. 46% of river and 58% lake water bodies across Northern Ireland are already failing water quality standards due to eutrophic conditions2. Unsurprisingly, Northern Ireland ammonia emissions are most prevalent in areas with high densities of intensive animal factories3. Chris Murphy continues, “As we walk through this wet field, there should be snipe, lapwings, and curlews. There were hundreds of corncrakes, they are now extinct, they’re gone.” The Northern Ireland Environment Agency have since admitted that they failed to undertake Habitats Assessments during the planning process for new Anaerobic Digester plants.

Northern Ireland’s landscape are under threat and many Northern Ireland visitors come to see where Game Of Thrones was filmed, however, much of this landscape may be compromised by huge unsightly pig factories. As noted by Eamon Mullion “we want [visitors] to enjoy the countryside, we don’t want them to experience a Northern Ireland that is dotted with huge industrial plants.”

1. https://friendsoftheearth.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/submission-environmental-audit-committees-inquiry-into-nitrates-105055.pdf
2. https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/daera/ni-environmental-statistics-report-2018_1.pdf
3. https://www.agriland.ie/farming-news/nis-ammonia-woes-under-fire-at-uk-level/

The Solutions

Livestock production is at a crossroads in Northern Ireland. Either, we choose to remain on the path to further industrial pig factories, or, we choose to support local farmers and Northern Ireland’s pristine countryside.

Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland is calling for a moratorium on the building of new intensive factory farms and a limit on numbers of livestock, for agricultural strategies that operate in the public interest, not in the interests of a few businesses, and for objectors to have the same right of appeal against planning decisions as developers.

Consumers are urged to take back control of their food by using the power of their purse to only buy pork from high welfare farms.. When buying pork, look for the labels RSPCA Assured, Outdoor, Free Range and best of all Organic. You can also ask for high welfare at your local butcher or local farmers’ market, find high welfare pork online, or join a box scheme. If you’re eating out, ask if the pork is from a high welfare farm. Cover the cost by eating less meat, but better quality, and save money by buying cheaper cuts, as well as adding extra vegetables, beans, and whole grains.

Pig Business in Romania

This film follows Smithfield Foods, the worlds biggest pork producer from the USA to Poland and Romania. Having bought ex-state farms cheaply it floods the markets putting small producers out of business. Neighbours living in centuries-old villages are sickened by the stench from the crowded pig barns.

Pig Business in USA

Pig Business investigates the rise of factory pig farming, a system which abuses animals, pollutes the environment, threatens human health through dangerous overuse of antibiotics, and wrecks rural communities. The film shows how this system which was developed in the USA is now being used in eastern Europe from where the pork, often produced below legal animal welfare standards, is exported to other EU countries putting local farmers out of business.

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