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Contested rural landscapes: contemporary entanglements of tourism and farming

Published: 1 November 2022

Abstract: The longstanding synergy between rural tourism and farming is under threat from agricultural intensification. Tourism interests in many parts of the world may find themselves facing the negative consequences of long-term shifts in farming practices, particularly the proliferation of intensive livestock operations or factory farms which accompanies the continuing rise in global meat consumption. This study from Herefordshire and Shropshire, in the UK, explores the complex relations surrounding the rapidly multiplying planning applications for intensive poultry units over the last ten years. Concerns that the poultry industry will harm local tourism trade are often raised, yet are denied by the farmer applicants and ignored by planning officers. There is little previous research about how tourists respond to intensive livestock operations and whether visitor economies could gradually experience harm from the cumulative environmental and other impacts. Drawing on survey, documentary, observational and interview data this research found increasing awareness among rural visitors and tourism businesses about negative experiential and economic impacts. Asymmetric power relations and dominant agricultural rationalities have held sway and suppressed tourism voices within a weak policy and planning context. The research recommends adjustments to planning processes to address the slow violence the development of industrial farming practices brings.
Keywords: Rural tourism / intensive livestock agriculture / planning conflicts

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