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Resist the temptation to snipe at farmers

12 October 2011


From Mr Anthony Bush

Sir, — Professor Andrew Linzey’s article (Comment, 30 September) and letters from John Wainwright and the Revd Dr Martin Henig (7 October) emphasise rightly that we are required to rule God’s creation well, and not abuse the animals in our care; but these contributions all lean suspiciously towards being sentimental and, preferably, to take the moral high ground, vegetarian.

The long tradition of using animals for food began with Noah and was confirmed as totally godly by Jesus, who ate the Passover lamb presumably every year, and fish, too. It was Christians, the Revd Arthur Broome and William Wilberforce, who set up the RSPCA to try to stop abuse, among working animals especially, in their day.

I hope, however, that those drinking milk in their coffee will think carefully about the issues of the dairy cow, without rushing blindly after Professor Linzey. Cows and badgers both deserve to live healthy lives and have policies directed to help both of them. And pejorative dismissal of the mega-herd overlooks the vital question of welfare. Many big herds have better welfare conditions than smaller ones. Professor John Webster wisely introduced the Five Freedoms in the early 1990s. The principle of freedom from hunger and thirst; from distress; from pain, injury, and disease; to express most normal behaviour; and from fear and distress has been accepted by most farming and welfare groups.

Farmers are struggling to conduct wholesome businesses in a highly competitive market, where the competition’s standards of welfare are often nowhere near as high. The Red Tractor scheme is a guide to welfare as well as other standards.

I hope the churches will encourage farmers to keep doing a good job, and resist sniping at them with an agenda that may be more a secular one driven by a worship of creation than one that follows Christ.

Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm
Clevedon Road, Wraxall
Bristol BS48 1PG

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