THE NUMBER of pig and poultry farms large enough to require an environmental permit has risen 7% since 2017.

There are now 1,786 farms that fall into this category, according to new data compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalists and the Guardian newspaper.

In England, according to the bureau, 2020 data suggests there are now 1,093 poultry farms with environmental permits and 221 pig units.

Scotland has seen a 10% rise and Wales a 21% increase in such farms.

Businesses with more and 40,000 broilers, layers or turkeys or 2,000 pigs must register with the Environment Agency.

Beef and dairy units do not currently require a permit, though they will be be introduced in the coming years.

The new investigation also sought to highlight how “half” of the companies producing poultry in the UK are either linked with or owned by American firms.

It suggests that American-style “intensive farming” is becoming growing here in the UK.


Responding to the investigation, the NFU’s chief poultry adviser Gary Ford said: “British farmers already operate to some of the highest animal welfare and environmental standards in the world and it’s crucial we recognise that animal husbandry and stockmanship are the greatest factors that determine animal health and welfare, not farm size or system of production.”