A woman seeking re-election to the ruling council of the RSPCA has sparked fury after comparing farming to the holocaust.
She has also called for the RSPCA to withdraw from the Freedom Foods assurance scheme, which promotes the welfare of animals during their rearing.
Peta Watson Smith of North Kelsey, a member of the Vegan Society, made the comments to the Times newspaper in a final push for votes.
“I don’t think people always appreciate what is the holocaust going on behind closed doors.
“You talk about the Jews. This probably sounds like animal rights, but if you recognise animals as sentient beings, why are we treating them so abysmally on farms?” she told the newspaper.
NFU Lincolnshire declined to comment, but Normanby-le-Wold mixed arable and suckling farmer Jonathan Brant, who was recently nominated to be NFU vice president, said, speaking as an individual farmer, Peta Watson Smith’s comments were “absolutely disgusting”.
“As farmers we care for our animals and treat them with respect. I have cared for and loved suckler cows and some are 16-17 years old. My oldest cow was 26 and they would not live that long if I treated them badly.
“The fact that this person is a vegan and vegetarian is affecting her judgement and accountability . I don’t have problems with vegans and vegetarians if it’s a personal preference but not to bandy out inaccuracies about the way that we as farmers look after our animals.”
“Everybody likes the countryside. Everybody likes the views that they see. For many of these hills and valleys are kept in such a wonderful condition by the grazing of sheep and cattle,” he said.
Her comments follow other similar statements, which come as the charity faces accusations it is taking a more radical direction.
Among the radicals’ targets is the RSPCA’s Freedom Food accreditation scheme, which is designed to improve the welfare of livestock. Affiliates of the scheme include many farmers in West Lindsey, including duck producer Cherry Valley of Caistor.
The RSPCA has insisted it remains “fully behind” its Freedom Food assurance scheme.
The Market Rasen Mail was unable to contact Peta Watson Smith for further comment.