QCA hails move from livestock farming

The Quaker Concern for Animals group praises the growing number of farmers moving from livestock farming to plant horticulture

The Quaker Concern for Animals (QCA) group has praised the ‘small but growing number’ of farmers who are turning their back on livestock farming to embrace plant horticulture. 

Julie Hinman, from QCA, told the Friend: ‘Part of addressing climate change requires that we examine our food habits and adapt towards a more sustainable future and so improve our chances of survival. Leading the way, a small but growing number of farmers are making a difficult financial and emotional choice to transition away from keeping animals, using their much needed knowledge and experience of the land to work in plant horticulture or stewardship.’

According to The Vegan Society, the global contribution of livestock farming to greenhouse gas emissions is agreed to be at least 14.5 per cent, more than all transport combined. Its Grow Green report in 2015 said: ‘Farming cattle produces around sixty-five per cent of livestock farming methane emissions. Livestock farming causes around forty-four per cent of total human-made methane emissions.’

The movement away from livestock farming was put in the spotlight recently when a former Smithfield pig farm manager in the US, Bradley Johnson, was threatened with imprisonment for refusing to gas some of his piglets who were too small or weak for slaughter. Instead, he took them to a sanctuary.

There is also a growing army of UK famers who are refusing to use the plough because of the degradation of the Earth’s soil. According to the UN, soils around the world have only an estimated sixty harvests left before they are too depleted and barren to feed the planet. A recent report published in the journal Biological Conservation said the degradation has been caused by pesticides and contributed to a drastic decline in insect numbers.

Julie Hinman urged Friends to ask themselves about the environmental realities of farming and food production. She said: ‘Due to globalisation and the industrialisation of food provision, we are generally disconnected with the sources of our food. When Quakers give thanks before eating what do they know, or want to know, about the truth of where that food came from, the journey it has made to their plate or its consequences for the environment?’

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