Pig farmers attack organic and welfare campaigners

Pig leaders have hit out at Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) and the Soil Association (SA), accusing them of threatening the welfare of pigs on UK farms.

The National Pig Association (NPA) claims the two organisations are running campaigns which attempt to prevent pig farmers from replacing worn-out housing.

It claims that if the campaigns are successful the British pig herd will shrink as older housing becomes uneconomic, and the growing gap in production will be taken up by lower-welfare imports.

The NPA went onto accuse both organisation of threatening tactics and using misinformation to achieve their aims.

“The peasant farming idyll promoted by these two organisations has little relevance in a world with a fast-growing population that needs affordable food,” said NPA chairman Stewart Houston.

“If their continued attacks on our higher-welfare British pig industry are successful, they will succeed in shutting down pig production in Britain and supermarkets will import more lower-welfare pork from elsewhere in the world.”

However, the claims have been rejected by Peter Melchett, SA policy director: “We’ve never given the planners misleading into. When that was suggested by Carter Ruck in 2010 we provided scientific evidence to support what we told the planners and the legal case against us was withdrawn.

“The other absurd thing is that we oppose new equipment and buildings. We don’t and never have done. It is the particular development [Foston] that we’d have given evidence about. But Stewart Houston is right that pig production is threatened by the large impact of this development. But he’s not looking at this right - the race to the bottom to try to increase economies of scale is not the way forward. We won’t compete globally on price and scale but on quality.”

Philip Lymbery, CEO of CIWF, said: “Our aim is to see pigs kept to genuinely higher welfare standards, rather than the conditions of utter deprivation so often found on the most intensive indoor farms. If this means we have to use planning law as well as general legislation to get better food and farming practices, then that is what we will do.”
Katy Read, head of food business at CIWF, added: “I am extremely saddened by the NPA’s claims that we are “threatening the welfare of pigs on British farms”. We pride ourselves not on “attacking” the pig industry but, through our Food Business Team, working with the industry and helping them to achieve higher animal welfare. This year we launched a new award – the Good Pig Award - and we’re looking forward to working with food companies to help them give consumers what they want: higher welfare pig meat.”

>Under Scrutiny: Foston Furore

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