News Food for the Planet

US town is aiming to ban factory farms, with UK places urged to follow suit

Berkeley, California, is set to vote on banning factory farms within its city limits – the first to do so in the U.S.A.

Factory farmed pigs. Credit: Barbara Barbosa, Pexels

Factory farmed pigs. Credit: Barbara Barbosa, Pexels

There are no factory farms currently in Berkeley, but activists believe the initiative will serve as a model for other cities.

Berkeley has a history of pioneering policies on food and the environment, including being among the first cities to ban new fur sales, a policy later adopted statewide. The city's proactive stance on issues like soda taxes and gas stove bans has sparked national debates on the issues. Berkeley has also introduced "Green Monday", which means city owned or managed catering outlets offer only vegan food and promote environmental consciousness. The city also passed a "healthy checkout" policy, compelling grocery stores to feature healthier items at the checkout.

In the UK, towns and cities rarely put city-wide policies to a ballot but local councils can use powers to stop the spread of intensive livestock units in their area. Ruth Westcott, campaign manager for climate change and nature at Sustain explains:

“UK councils can put in place planning policy (either through their local plan or supplementary planning policy), to make sure that new intensive livestock units must fully disclose their impacts and won’t be approved if they will further pollute our rivers, air and climate. We are here to help through our Planning for the Planet campaign and I hope councils in the UK will be inspired by Berkley to use their powers to stop polluting factory farms.”

Sustain is emphasising the need for an equitable transition to nature-friendly farming, calling for an uplift in farmer support for sustainable systems, and to protect farmers better from the exploitative practices of retailers.

The ambitions of activists in the USA echo those of Sustain and its members in starting a movement for change from the local upwards. Dozens of UK councils now have sustainable food policies, which include measures for better procurement, farming, food waste reduction and community ownership of food assets. Four Councils have committed to aligning the meals they serve with a planetary health diet. Last year the Labour Party announced their intentions to set national standards for 50% food in the public sector to be local or sustainable, showing how local action is inspiring national commitments.

Published Wednesday 31 January 2024

Food for the Planet: Food for the Planet is helping local authorities, businesses and organisations take simple actions to tackle the climate and nature emergency through food.

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