Charity backs ‘weaner-dealer’ NPA campaign

A leading welfare charity has backed the National Pig Association’s (NPA) campaign to prevent piglets from Belgium being imported into the UK unregulated.

Compassion in World Farming (CiWF) has welcomed NPA warnings that the trade could possibly bring diseases such as MRSA into the country.

CiWF welfare development manager Phil Brooke said: “Live imports of recently weaned piglets mean long journeys with poor welfare. We may be rearing animals that have been bred using methods that have been outlawed in Britain, on welfare grounds.”

CiWF has said that it believes that live import of piglets poses a high threat to their welfare and that animals transported on long journeys from abroad are likely to suffer from hunger, thirst, exhaustion and overcrowding, as well as motion sickness, and are often fasted before the journey as a consequence.

Brooke added: “British pig farmers are right to want to ban the cruel import of piglets from the Continent to prevent the spread of diseases like MRSA, just as the Dutch farmers were right to stop importing calves from Britain to keep out tuberculosis. Long-distance transport causes avoidable suffering, especially for such young animals. Risking the spread of disease through live imports or exports is crazy.”

The NPA’s campaign to keep out ‘weaner-dealers’ is to stop unregulated trade between Britain and the Continent, but the organisation does not oppose sitting down with would-be weaner importers and agreeing strict procedures.

Association chairman Stewart Houston has recently challenged the sustainability of current Continental pig production models, which sees pigs being sent from the Netherlands and Denmark to be finished in Germany.

“What will happen to this trade if there is a serious disease outbreak or a change in transport rules? And even if there isn’t, how long will it be before Germany decides it is no longer prepared to take on everybody else’s environmental responsibilities?” he asked.

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