There are pig farmers who want swill-feeding, Pig Idea says

All UK pig farmers are not against a repeal of the swill-feeding ban, The Pig Idea has told Meatinfo.co.uk, despite the National Pig Association (NPA) indicating otherwise.

Charlotte Jarman, of The Pig Idea, said there were many pig farmers up and down the country who wanted to see a repeal of the law preventing them from swill-feeding their pigs. “There are pig farmers who use food waste where possible to feed their pigs now. There are pro-change pig farmers in the UK,” she confirmed.

She explained that The Pig Idea was not proposing mandatory changes, “we are just saying that, ‘do you think pig farmers should have the option [to swill-feed]?’”.

According to The Pig Idea, which started a campaign for a change to the regulations back in June, if swill-feed is processed properly, it does not pose risks in terms of African Swine Fever (ASF) or foot and mouth. It said feeding pigs swill would be better for the environment than growing virgin crops, but admitted more research needed to be done on the topic.

“We are not pro-return to back yard swill-feeding, we are proposing a thorough investigation to set up a safe system that is rigorous all along the supply chain,” Jarman said.

Fear of disease

Yet it is the risk of diseases, such as ASF and foot and mouth, leading pig farmers up and down the country to fear a repeal of the swill-feed law.

Such a fear led NPA chairman Richard Longthorp to warn MPs during a debate held earlier in the week that “the countryside will once again be alight with funeral pyres”, if the ban is repealed.

“And the NPA will be taking call after call after call from grief-stricken farmers wanting to know what to do, because they can’t move their pigs, and they can’t move their sheep,” he said at an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology debate on food waste and pig feed.

Small breeders against the disease

Chief executive of the British Pig Association (BPA) Marcus Bates is also against a repeal to the regulation. He said of his members: “They are opposed to The Pig Idea. I’m sorry to say it, but they feel the risk is too great.”

He said a recent alert about African Swine Fever (ASF) on the Wirrall made him “sick to the pit of my stomach”. The risk of ASF in the UK is very real, he continued, and pleaded to MPs at the debate, “so I implore you, please don’t break this 100% ban on swill-feeding. The risks are too great. That’s what our members feel.”

However, there are areas of agreement on both sides and The Pig Idea confirmed that it was not a slanging match between it and the NPA, and nor would it turn into one. “They [the NPA] have concerns and there is a significant amount of common ground, much of that is in reducing waste,” Jarman said.

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