I do not know what the hon. Member means by a factory farm, but if he is referring to intensive systems of livestock husbandry, the answer is quite a lot of eggs and poultry and smaller amounts of other types of meat.
Is it not a fact that as a result of my Questions, a good deal of propaganda outside the House and visits paid by thousands of people to these farms, the Joint Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister should know exactly what is meant by "factory farms"? Does he realise that we can be told the amount of foodstuff that comes from the Argentine, Australia and New Zealand because of the arrangements made by the Minister? In view of that, can the hon. Gentleman say what quantity of foodstuffs come from factory farms or as the result of intensive farming in places very much nearer home?
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to ensure that hygienic arrangements at factory farms are such as to minimise the danger of an outbreak of disease spreading among the animals due to the congested conditions under which they are reared.
Control of animal disease on the farm by good management and hygiene is the farmer's responsibility and is in his interest, whatever form of husbandry is practised. Advice on these matters is readily available from the veterinary profession and my Department.
Since over a great number of industries—like shoes, ships, sealing wax, cabbages and even kings—we can regulate the conditions under which goods are produced, why is it that we cannot, as a Government, do it for animals which are prepared for food at factory farms?
The hon. Gentleman is referring only to disease, and I have said that it is the farmer's responsibility—indeed, it is in his interest—to see that animals are healthy, that they thrive and that there is adequate control of disease. It is the responsibility of farmers to do this, with advice from my Department and the veterinary profession; and this is more than adequate.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that he would be seriously misunderstanding the feelings of the farming community if he equates factory farmers with normal, conventional farmers, and is he really satisfied that these factory farmers fully understand the requirements on animal hygiene in this context?