Posts Tagged ‘compassion’


Friday, August 23rd, 2013
Compassion in World Farming founders, Anna & Peter Roberts

Compassion in World Farming founders, Anna & Peter Roberts

Today we celebrate the life and works of Anna Roberts, a woman nothing short of remarkable who leaves a rich legacy. She was wife to Peter, mother to three daughters, nan to six grandchildren, business woman, entrepreneur and co-founder of Compassion in World Farming.

Since their holiday romance in the 1950s, Anna and Peter were inseparable; so much so that on Peter’s funeral flowers, Anna wrote; ‘wait for me Peter’.

When they were together, Anna needed no one to wait for her; she was forceful and energetic. Anna proved the adage; behind every great man is a great woman. When they were still farming in Hampshire, in the 1960s, a farm adviser came knocking at his door; one of an army tasked with spreading the word about intensive farming. ‘If you want to boost your business’, the official visitor told Peter, ‘you’ll have to move into intensive chicken rearing’; that meant rearing chickens, lots of them, in large industrial sheds; it meant factory farming.

Although he already kept a few hundred chickens, Peter was uncomfortable. That evening, he discussed it with Anna. Never one to duck the issue, her reaction was instant; “If you want to do this, Peter, I won’t stop you, but I don’t agree with it!”

It was to be the turning point; they gave up farming and went into the business of feeding people through their company, Direct Foods – importing soya products from America, and of combating cruelty through setting up the animal welfare society, Compassion in World Farming.

Compassion was the word; for people as well as animals; they saw factory farming as being both cruel to animals and worsening world hunger.

Compassion was the deed; seeing it as something much more than dietary choice; as seeing animals as individuals deserving respect in their own right.

Compassion was the spirit, of everything they did; Anna was never the public face of the organisation, but she drove it with her determination, her tenacity, her passion. Peter and Anna discussed things constantly. Anna printed the leaflets, primed the pumps and shaped the thinking. She was the driving emotion, the fire in the furnace of an organisation that would take on some of the biggest vested interests in farming with unshakeable belief. Anna worked full time in support of Peter and as a board member until the late 1980s.

In 1978, Anna set up the Bran Tub, a compassionate food palace on Lavant Street, Petersfield, that is still going strong today. The offices above were where Compassion in World Farming used to be based; it was where I first met both Anna and Peter as a young lad in 1990.

Family was hugely important to Anna. She loved it when all the family would converge on Copse House, the family home they bought in the mid-60s. It was a home steeped in love and laughter, not to mention different types of nut-roast; being the venue for family gatherings; birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and every Christmas.

She was forceful, tenacious and, to her family, often quite strict. Anna’s daughter, Gill, still recalls how she had her mouth washed out with soap. I must confess during all the time I worked and knew Anna, I never had that experience; although in unguarded moments, the odd swear-word nearly proved my undoing!

When Peter was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991, Anna put her all into caring for him. In his last years, she was his full time carer, often declining outside care that was offered and that she richly deserved. When Peter was admitted to hospital in October 2006, passing away in the November, Anna found life truly unbearable. She struggled emotionally, spiritually and physically.

Anna and Peter shared a very strong belief that life on Earth is only part of the journey, and that loved ones are reunited in the afterlife.

‘Wait for me Peter’ are the words Anna wrote over six years ago; it was her heartfelt plea. Today, reunited, their wait is over.

Ramsgate: Ban live exports

Monday, June 20th, 2011

A packed public meeting on a rainy Friday evening in Ramsgate; no-one could have any doubt at the strength of feeling against the live animal export trade now going through the town’s port. 

The meeting was opened by an impassioned speech from local councillor, Ian Driver, who took the initiative and called this meeting.  Local people mingled with stalwart campaigners; veterans of past battles against live exports in Shoreham and Brightlingsea.  The RSPCA were joined on the platform by, amongst others, leading members of the dedicated team from Kent Against Live Exports (KALE).  It was a privilege to be part of the meeting; and to see so many people speaking out against a trade in live animals that is outdated, unnecessary and causes so much suffering to animals.

Before the meeting, I spoke to Meridian TV News; they had been busy getting sound-bites from local people in Ramsgate about live exports.  They told me that finding someone in favour of it had been difficult; testimony to the overwhelming opinion against the trade locally. 

Like so many of us, the campaign against long distance animal transport has been part of my life for decades. It’s a chapter I would rather see closed. It was one of the major issues that motivated Compassion’s founder, Peter Roberts.  The campaign has brought together people from all walks of life.  Together, we’ve had huge impact; at its height in the early-1990s, two million sheep and 500,000 calves were being exported live from Britain to continental Europe; staggering numbers.  Last year, that figure was down to 4,000 sheep; the calf trade ceased all together. 

What is deeply concerning is that Ramsgate is now hosting a resurgence of the live export trade; a trade that is both inhumane and unnecessary.  Only this month, 2 consignments of British calves went from Ramsgate.  These calves will often be reared in veal systems that would be illegal in the UK. There is also a major calf trade from Northern Ireland with 7,000 animals this year having gone to Spain and Hungary. 

Many of the sheep will be going for slaughter.  It simply cannot be right to transport animals over long distances simply to be slaughtered at the journey’s end.  This problem is not confined to British live exports.  Our recent investigation  in Europe pointed to the kind of conditions these animals are often forced to endure; transported in overcrowded and filthy conditions, legs sticking out of the lorries and journeys lasting up to 23 hours long.

You can help.  If you haven’t already, please sign the 8-hours petition. Please write urgently to your MEPs calling for European action to end the long distance transport trade and impose a total maximum journey time of 8 hours for animals travelling for slaughter or fattening.  It is great to see that Peter Skinner MEP is supporting the campaign.  If you live in the Ramsgate area, please write to your local councillors and MPs calling for urgent action.  We are putting together an action pack to help you do just that.  I will post it very soon.  Thank you for helping make live animal exports a thing of the past.

Combating cruelty to farm animals

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

After last week’s seminal lecture by Lester Brown in memory of our late founder, it is perhaps an opportune moment to take stock of where we are going. Stating the obvious for a moment, Compassion in World Farming is, and always has been, about stopping cruelty to farm animals. In 1967, our founder, Peter Roberts, launched our organisation in response to the cages and crates that came to define modern intensive farming.  Our track record is testimony to the success of his approach. Now as we approach the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, his rallying cry is needed more than ever. Today, factory farming is the biggest cause of animal suffering in the world. Globally we rear around 60 billion animals a year, mostly in factory farms.  

Compassion recognises that ending such wide-scale cruelty to animals is a huge task -improving the plight of billions of animals will require the energy of many thousands of people.  In order to mobilise maximum energy against factory farming, Compassion is working hard to bring to the world’s attention some of the other, less known impacts of factory farming. Until recently few realised that run-away factory farming and its consequent addictive diet of “cheap” meat has resulted in livestock production accounting for almost 20% of human greenhouse gas emissions.

If you tunnel to the very core, to the ‘essence’, of Compassion in World Farming, you’ll find a belief that farm animals should not, and need not, suffer.  We want to end factory farming.  Why?  Because keeping animals caged, crammed and confined causes huge suffering to the animals involved.  Suffering that could often be avoided if a different, more humane rearing system were used.  

It is fair to say that climate change dominates the world’s attention at this time.  It is also fair to say that the majority of nations around the world recognise the perils of allowing our planet to heat up in the years ahead.  What is less commonly reported is that many within the powerful agribusiness lobby are arguing that further intensification of livestock farming could help combat climate change. Their argument is simple: the world’s growing population will need more “efficient” meat production to satisfy growing demand – so the answer to them seems obvious… more “modern”, “efficient”, “mechanised” farming.   In other words, the spectre of climate change could lead policy makers to sleepwalk us into more, not less, factory farming in the years ahead.  

We know that this would be a disaster on an unimaginable scale; for animals as well as people. It would cause even greater suffering and make our food system even further removed from environmental sustainability, bringing further serious consequences.  Our recent high-profile lecture event explored some of the issues at stake here.

Alerting our policy-makers to the folly of factory farming on all fronts – animal cruelty, climate and social costs – will be vital if we are to overcome the huge vested interests that are behind the industrial agricultural model.

Compassion is not a ‘climate change’ or environmental organisation.  We are an animal welfare organisation.  However, we see the consequences of factory farming on our climate, our environment and our ability to feed the world’s people.  There is a great onus on us to engage in the big debates of our time.  It is essential to contribute to discussions on food, farming and the environment to help steer the world toward a better future, toward humane and sustainable farming.  And therein lies great opportunity.

The climate change debate is a powerful example of where our message of compassion and respect for farm animals is both timely and relevant.  Global deliberations on climate change (the next stage comes to a climax in December with the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen), presents us with an opportunity to stop and re-think our relationship with food and farming.  Most experts agree that success in the battle against climate change will require a seismic re-appraisal of the way we do things on our planet – and this represents a golden chance to promote our vision.  Not simply to combat the intensive agribusiness lobby and avoid further intensification but to re-assess the very way in which humanity treats the tens of billions of animals produced each year.

We know that factory farming is cruel.  The current debate gives us an opportunity to point out how stupid it is too.

In memory of our founder…

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009
What better way to start than at the beginning. I thought I would open this blog, therefore, with my own reflection of the life of a man that has changed the course of history for farm animals:
Peter Roberts MBE
7 June 1924 – 15 November 2006

Some people seem ordinary, yet are larger than life. Some people choose one career path, yet are compelled to follow another. Some people embody a word. Peter was just such a person. And that word is compassion.

Peter was a true pioneer – a dairy farmer who, driven by compassion, became appalled at the rise in factory farming and forty years ago set up Compassion In World Farming. Going against the agricultural tide of the time, he saw his back room protest group grow to be the leading force for farm animal welfare internationally that it is now.

Peter was a visionary – he saw that there must be a better way. A way in which people can be well fed, the environment protected and animals treated with compassion. He saw concern for animals as a natural extension of his love for humanity. He saw a common union between all sentient beings.

Peter is truly inspirational – his strength, vision and humility have inspired a legion of people across the world to give voice to the suffering of farm animals. To imagine a world where farm animals are treated with compassion and respect. Where fresh air and sunshine are natural parts of any farming system and where long distance transport and inhumane slaughter are things of the past.

His legacy of change is immense. His approach and determination lives on in Compassion in World Farming.

Farmageddon on film

Read the whole story

About Philip Lymbery

Philip Lymbery is Chief Executive Officer of Compassion in World Farming and co-author of Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat. He is an internationally respected authority on the impact of industrial agriculture on people, animals and the planet.