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commercial value). Further investigation is necessary into the reasons why this is the
case and why farmers have responded so well to this aspect of conservation. On one
level, it might be suggested that farmers are keeping rare breeds in the hope that
they may possess economic advantages in future productive systems and that
conservation is a fortuitous by-product. But, on another level, it might be suggested
that this reflects a genuine concern about farm animals which transcends their
productive value. Specific questions also arise about farmers' deeper motives for
belonging to the Trust, whether the RBST supports class interest and the influence
it has had, or could have, on policy-making. The preceding discussion obviously
reflects the viewpoints of RBST members, who have an interest in farm livestock,
and so apparent interest in livestock may be restricted to a minority of people—
although minorities are important, as Philo (1992) points out. Research which
addresses these issues and considers the place of animals in farmers' constructions of
rurality would clearly be worthwhile.
Attention also needs to be focused on how these constructions mesh with those
held by other social groups. Certainly, the constructions of livestock discussed above
are not unproblematic. As Agyeman and Spooner (1997) indicate, discourses which
suggest that flora and fauna are 'native' or 'foreign' to Britain, and 'do' or 'do not'
belong in rural places, can contribute towards feelings of exclusion felt by some
people of colour in the countryside. Caution and sensitivity must therefore also be
exercised when referring to the 'origins' of livestock and to whether or not they
'belong' in Britain.
Other commentators have reported conflict when the place of livestock in the
countryside has been contested by different groups. These conflicts have been
fuelled by the anthropocentric commodification of livestock to sell products and
places. This has led to a significant disparity between the sanitised expectation of
livestock and the ways in which they are used within farming practice (Yarwood and
Evans 1998). Cloke et al. (1997:218) have noted that some migrants to rural areas
were surprised to find 'manure smells, cows mooing'. Such attitudes have led to
disputes over the right of cocks to crow (Cloke 1993) and cattle to roam (Yarwood
and Evans 1998). Central to these arguments, Cloke (1993:120) suggests, is cultural
conflict over the place of the 'sights, smells and sounds of agriculture' in the
countryside, not to mention the right of animals to behave in a natural way. At
another extreme, the idea that livestock are simply 'units of production' can lead to
the mistreatment of some farm animals through intensive breeding and feeding
programmes (Yarwood and Evans 1998). As recognition of animal rights has grown,
some animals have benefited from improved living conditions through more
extensive, organic methods of farming.
These examples represent quite exceptional ways in which animals are
constructed, contested and subsequently placed within the countryside. It would be
simplistic to think that all discourses about livestock centre on debates over their
sanitised expectations or their productive value. For most people, livestock are
simply 'there' in the countryside and make up part of the rural scene. Indeed,
Halfacree (1995) has noted that animals can be important within individual
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