Tory Shadow Minister backs Lincolnshire ‘super dairy’

SHADOW Farming Minister Jim Paice has issued a ringing endorsement to plans to build an 8,100-cow dairy unit in Lincolnshire.

The Cambridgeshire MP described the media furore that has blown up over the proposal as ‘nonsense’ and praised the farmers behind it for showing confidence in the UK dairy industry.

Mr Paice was speaking alongside Liberal Democrat counterpart Roger Williams and UK Independence Party (UKIP) candidate Christopher Gill at an event in Warwickshire organised by the Guild of Agricultural Journalists.

He insisted the welfare of cows is ‘not linked to scale, but is all about management’ when the politicians were asked if they were comfortable with Nocton Dairies’ proposal, given the animal welfare backlash it has provoked.

“I understand this unit is going to have its own dedicated veterinary centre with a vet on the place all the time. That must be good,” said Mr Paice, who is likely be the next Farming Minister should the Conservatives win the General Election.

“I am encouraged that people think it is worth investing in dairy farming in this country at a time when many people are going out of it.

“Clearly there is a public image issue here because the perception is that welfare must be awful and it is factory farming and all the nonsense we have we seen in the tabloids. But it is down to the proponents of it and the industry to explain the upside,” said Mr Paice.

He added that he did not think the venture would damage smaller dairy farmers, given the generally positive outlook for the industry.  

Mr Williams also dismissed the animal welfare arguments targeted at the proposed unit. “There isn’t any correlation between the size of the establishment and animal welfare. It’s all to do with the management and how precise you are,” he said.

But Mr Gill, a former Tory MP who is standing for UKIP in Ludlow, said he was ‘personally very much opposed to these huge herds’.

“I don’t think from an animal welfare point of view it’s a very good idea. I very much regret this would be at the expense of small dairy farms,” he said.

The debate covered a range of issues, including the CAP, which Mr Gill would like to the UK to pull out of, supermarket power, agricultural research and the problem of attracting young people into farming.

Farming Minister Jim Fitzpatrick had been expected to take part but pulled out, telling the organisers he was visiting a school instead.

Readers' comments (9)

  • I think the damage to small dairy farms has already been done, and if the supermarkets cant buy milk at the price they want to pay in the UK then they will surely go to "super Dairies" in the Eastern block which are already in existance - at least the Nocton Dairies option keeps the milk production in the UK, and gives some control over welfare, and quality.

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  • FUNNY THE SHADOW FARMING MINISTER HAS BEEN DRAFTED IN - TYPICAL PETER WILLES IF BACKED AGAINST THE WALL GO TO THE TOP FOR BACK UP - MR. WILLES HAS NO IDEA OF PLANNING LAWS AS HE NEVER APPLIES FOR PLANNING CONSENT IN THE DEVON AREA AND ONLY PUTS IN RETROSPECTIVE APPLICATIONS WHEN PUSHED. BELIEVE ME THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO IS LET THIS MAN IN HE HAS NO REGARD TO ANYONE LOCALS AND ONLY BELIEVES IN PROFIT.

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  • I would suggest to Jim Paice that if he thinks its such a good idea, then if this goes ahead, he will be able to buy a house very cheaply in Nocton. Does anyone think he would actually do that, and put up with it on HIS doorstep. Alternatively, if hopefully, it doesn't go ahead, then perhaps Jolly Jim can suggest somewhere locally to Peterborough for Mr Willes to put his farm, preferably on his back lawn

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  • I might have voted Tory in the next election, however as I live near to where this "farm" will be - I can vouch that the media coverage is accurate - WE DO NOT WANT MR WILLES OR HIS FARM HERE!
    I would not wish this on anyone, anywhere. His money may talk, but dirt smells - and he smells worse than the largest slurry lagoon (with or without planning permission)

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  • This is not just about animal welfare - this will be an environmental disaster and a public health hazard. They're trying to push this through before all of the local residents realise the threat facing them.

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  • It seems pretty disturbing that these large scale industrial farms use dirty tricks to try to circumvent planning law. I gather that Willes is using all his wiles to try to trick the people of Lincolnshire and now along comes Paice to back him up. It does remind us that the Tories are the party of big farming, it is the small scale ethical farmers who I feel sorry for. This kind of controversy does little to help the relations between town and country. There are so many issues involved that perhaps the question of these mega units needs to be aired properly.

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  • At the end of the day, in the future, when everything is run on a large scale basis; dairies, farms, supermarkets, etc. When everyone works for the same 5 or 6 companies who will have more control over government policy than the voting public, will everyone who made it happen or did nothing to stop it be proud of the Britain they live in? Scaremongering? Look around you, it's happening.

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  • The answer lies with the public, who should choose to NOT buy the cheap milk, and thus encourage mass factory farming. However we all know that the majority of ppl who sign this petition buy supermarket milk. I personally gave up drinking milk years ago. As the population continues to grow, so demand for food will increase. People need to stop having so many kids!!!! Or consider vegetarian options. It's a myth that milk is the ONLY good source of calcium, there are plenty of better options.

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  • A well written story, good reecrash although there are some people who think this is the only way people are going to get as much milk as they need in the future. You might want to look also at the water problem we've just had a hose pipe ban in Lincolnshire and dairy farming is the most demanding kind of farming on water supplies so it's a good thing we're not having to worry about all the water we'd need for a dairy with 8100 cows!

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