While it was in our village it drove past one of our village farms and was captured on close circuit TV. So the police have the opportunity to try and identify the details of this reprobate driver although it is not apparent that they have a deep interest in the wall. What was unexpected was that a farmer needs to install CCTV cameras in a historic rural, farming community.

The southwest of England is an historic centre for glove making and glove leather and gloves are still made here today. One thing the glovers have never had was a good supply of local raw material, especially goat or kidskins. Over the last century Ethiopia has become the prime source to allow the industry to compete with glovers in France who for the last 1500 years have had wonderful kidskins and lambskins for their glove production.

Historically the British primitive goat seems to be rather a Celtic animal, and they were around when Stonehenge was being built. It also seems they were part of the setting up of the Cheddar cheese business, but the numbers have been tiny compared to sheep and cattle. So it is with some fascination that we see that rising demand for goat milk has led to the establishment of a small but significant numbers of goat farms springing up in the UK, and that is what we have in our village.

Animal welfare and animal rights are totally different

But these goat farms are just the latest target for a mixed group of very determined animal rights and vegan supporters whose approach is aggressive and exceedingly unpleasant. Arriving unexpectedly, entering illegally, filming and asking provocative questions, making outrageous demands in order to develop promotional material and occasionally deliberating causing damage all appears part of the format. One farmer has already given up altogether and abandoned his farm after agreeing to let agricultural students in for a week of work experience; but they were not agricultural students and were just searching for unpleasant pictures and ways to intimidate him. They call it their “undercover team”.

There are fair discussions to be held on many animal welfare issues as I have seen from New Zealand to the USA, from merino to cattle. For goats areas such as debudding and castration need full and proper consideration, but not to have outcomes decided by violence and intimidation, where added financial and emotional costs make farming uneconomic.

So while I was deeply upset that my wall was destroyed by a secret trucker I am more shocked by the fact that animal rights can reach into a remote location such as ours creating fear and worry among well intentioned farmers. More than ever I feel that the leather industry needs to join with the world’s farmers to protect the fabric of society. We fully promote animal welfare; but we totally oppose animal rights promoted through violence and intimidation.

Mike Redwood


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