Riverford Organics and fox hunting
It has been reported that fox hunting has been taking place on land rented by veg-box scheme Riverford Organics and owned by the family behind the business.
According to a statement released by Riverford Organics founder Guy Watson, land used by the South Devon Hunt belongs to his sister and is rented to Riverford Organics. The land also hosts a dairy herd that supplies them with organic milk.
While Guy Watson denounced fox hunting he acknowledged in a statement published on social media that his sister was a joint-master of the South Devon Hunt. Riverford was also listed as an advertiser for the South Devon Hunter Trials which raised money for the South Devon Hunt. The company stated that it was “unaware of this and had made clear that this could not happen again.” It stated that “No money from Riverford Organic Farms has been used to sponsor the South Devon Hunter Trials.”
The admission to the fact that fox hunting is taking place on land which supplies Riverford has caused some customers to question its ethics. The Riverford Facebook page was awash with comments accusing the company of double standards.
Eilish Roberts commented: “If the blood sport thing is true, it wouldn't sit well with a lot of people.”
Pip Smith wrote: “Maybe an ethical company should be refusing the hunt to cross land that they rent and if they can't do that then they should be doing their utmost to talk to the people who can refuse that!”
Guy posted on Facebook saying, “I do not fox hunt, never have and find it regrettable that anyone enjoys a sport that causes suffering to animals.... My sister Louise, who I love dearly, rides and hunts. I don’t agree with her but I tolerate her position... “ He added that, “She allows fox hunting on her land; I don’t on mine.”
As the news broke a 38 Degrees petition was started issuing a boycott of Riverford but this was closed after 48 hours. In an email to petition signatories, Ama, who started the petition, offered the following explanation for its closure: "Some people may be surprised that I have chosen to close this petition after only 48 hours, but the reason is simple. I have no desire to bring Riverford to its knees. She continued "The fact that more than four and a half thousand of you [signed the petition] in precisely 48 hours shows that Riverford customers have no toleration for pleasure killing of any kind to be associated with their weekly shopping."
She added, "I ask you to continue to put pressure on Riverford, by letting them know directly how you feel about this issue, and their reluctance to change how they do business."
According to its website the Watson family has farmed the 350 hectare Riverford Farm for over 50 years with all five children actively involved in the farm or its associated businesses. Louise and her brother Oliver were involved in the running of the farm.
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