Growing urbanisation of the countryside is leading to planning applications for traditional part-time pig units meeting with opposition, says the National Pig Association.
Britain already imports around 60 per cent of its pork and pork products (usually from less welfare-friendly farms) and this figure will rise unless farmers are encouraged to invest in new, more efficient and environmentally-friendly buildings, says the NPA.
The NPA has identified a growing trend for vegan groups and other single-interest lobby groups to become involved in planning applications, using misinformation to frighten local residents into opposing new and replacement pig farms.
The NPA's Dr Zoe Davies told me: "In the past, pig farmers who wanted to build a new pig unit, usually to replace inefficient old buildings, could work constructively with local residents to address any concerns they might have. But now they are being targeted by aggressive single-issue organisations with no local connections."
The NPA is urging all planning authorities to recognise that investment in farming is essential to keep the countryside alive, and that pig farms employ a huge number of people indirectly, including hauliers, millers, meat plants, electricians, plumbers and builders. It contends that for many people, a modern pig unit makes a far better neighbour than a new housing estate.
Smell is far less of a problem these days, and with sensitive management can be eliminated altogether.