‘We are really proud of livestock welfare standards in the UK’

July 4, 2019

 

FACTUALLY INCORRECT: “I absolutely reject that. We have just had Open Farm Sunday where farms right across the country have opened their doors and let everyone in. We are really proud of the standards we have in the UK and you cannot say what you have just done. It is therefore wholly inappropriate for such unfounded claims to be broadcast on the BBC.” – NFU president Minette Batters on the BBC’s Radio PM programme and Twitter.

 

HUMBLE STATEMENT: “Hi Minette, just waking up to my timeline. I admit my clumsy expression gave the wrong impression that I think all animals are mistreated. Fear not, I’ve been to farms and know that’s false. I’d never argue that, any more than you would say all animals are well-treated.” Evan Davis on Twitter to NFU president Minette Batters after saying to her on Radio’s 4 TV programme “Yes, but they are not very good, let’s be honest. You wouldn’t want us to go around showing pictures of what goes on in a farm, would you?”

 

ONE of the BBC’s anchor journalists has doubled down on allegations made against the livestock industry when interviewing farming’s top official.

National Farmers Union  president Minette Batters, who farms in Wiltshire, was being put on hot coals by former Newsnight presenter Evan Davis on Radio’s 4 TV programme when they were discussing the Government’s National Food Strategy.

Ms Batters runs a tenanted farm in Wiltshire and is the NFU’s first woman president. She has a 100-cow Continental cross suckler herd, a small herd of pedigree Herefords along with sheep and arable.

A versatile businesswoman, Ms Batters converted a 17th Century tythe barn into a wedding and corporate events venue and horse liveries. She also helped to found the initiatives Ladies In Beef and The Great British Beef Week.

‘Let’s be honest, standards are not good’

When Ms Batters suggested that the UK had some of the “highest standards of animal welfare” in the European Union, Mr Davis lobbed his own opinion in the narrative without basing his interjection with facts.

He told Ms Batters: “Yes, but they are not very good, let’s be honest. You wouldn’t want us to go around showing pictures of what goes on in a farm, would you?”

‘We just had Open Farm Sunday’

Clearly irritated, she immediately hit back. “I absolutely reject that. We have just had Open Farm Sunday where farms right across the country have opened their doors and let everyone in. We are really proud of the standards we have in the UK and you cannot say what you have just done.”

‘Doxed footage gained by trespass, not consent’

Having worked as a rural affairs correspondent on a Somerset newspaper, livestock enterprises can be shut down if they are guilty of breaking animal welfare or food hygiene regulations.

But having studied Mr Davis’s comments, he may have seen some of the graphic images put on line by animal rights activists. If you are a livestock owner, would you give permission to a campaigning organisation to go where they liked knowing full well that information would be used to dox the business.

Conversely why would any major rural event like the New Forest Show, the Dorset County Show or the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show invite Vegetarian International Voice For Animals, Animal Aid, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) or anyone similar a stall to any of these groups knowing full well they campaign against these events? The simple answer is they don’t and perhaps local journalists would care to take note.

‘Fall out on programme and Twitter ignored by MSM’

The altercation between Ms Batters and Mr Davis then spread to Twitter and it provoked strong reactions on-line. This chain of events was covered by a lot of the countryside media but mainstream news have tried to pretend it never took place.

‘Our standards are recognized across government’

Ms Batters challenged the BBC on their stance on British food. “Hi @BBCPM and @EvanHD I often listen to the programme and have always been a fan. But I can’t begin to tell you how upset farmers are at your accusations today. Please will you come out to visit my farm and discuss further.

“The fact that Britain is leading the way on animal welfare standards is widely recognized across Government with DEFRA secretary Michael Gove describing British farming standards as ‘world class’. It is therefore wholly inappropriate for such unfounded claims to be broadcast on the BBC.”

In response, Mr Davis showed some humility and admitted he had visited farms previously and that his statement challenging Ms Batters on the National Food Strategy was misleading.

I’ve been on the farm and know that’s false

“Hi Minette, just waking up to my timeline. I admit my clumsy expression gave the wrong impression that I think all animals are mistreated. Fear not, I’ve been to farms and know that’s false. I’d never argue that, any more than you would say all animals are well-treated.

“By popular demand on @BBC4PM at 5pm, we’ll be revisiting the issue of animal welfare on British farms and fact-checking my question to @Minette_Batters (which aroused a great deal of anger).”

  • THIS is based on a transcription of the interview by Farming UK and should be viewed and read as such. I’ve added some comments from my own observations covering rural affairs and my experience of the animal rights lobby.

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