National Pig Association launches ‘critical friends’ initiative

A programme has been launched by the National Pig Association (NPA) to help counteract propaganda driven by anti-meat campaigners. 

The organisation is advising its members to adopt best practices in pig production at all times. The ‘critical friends’ approach encourages farmers to regularly invite people from outside the industry to look around their site to gain a better understanding into operations.

“The vast majority of British pig farmers strive to achieve best-practice at all times and this has earned them a global reputation for high-welfare animal husbandry,” said NPA’s chief executive and animal scientist Dr Zoe Davies. “But we are always listening to the evolving expectations of our customers and we aim to meet those expectations through a policy of continual improvement.”

Posters are currently being distributed to the NPA’s members, which make up nearly 80% of England’s commercial pig production. The posters will remind producers of five key points:
•    Check all animals have sufficient bedding for the night
•    Check whether any animals need special treatment
•    Check there is no damage that could cause injuries during the night
•    Never go home until any welfare issues have been resolved
•    Ensure all medicines are under lock and key

Additionally, the organisation operates a Confidential Reporting Service, which allows farm staff and visitors to report any issues that they witness through a confidential hotline. This allows for an independent spot-check to be carried out, ensuring that the unit is complying with all legal requirements.

Alongside this, the NPA is urging its members to fit infrared security cameras so that the industry body can collect visual evidence for private prosecutions against activists who break into pig units.

“Tampering with doors and windows is unwelcome, but our real concern is the risk of introducing disease to high-health pig units, where a subsequent health breakdown can cost thousands of pounds to remedy,” explained Richard Lister, NPA chairman.

“It is our view that anti-meat campaigners who try and gain access to our buildings at night are trying to influence local planners to refuse permission for new pig units. But if that is their goal, they are being very short-sighted, because it just means more pork and pork products on supermarket shelves will be imported, much of it from countries with lower welfare standards.

“Our customers want to know, when they buy British pork, they are buying the highest farming standards in the world – and that’s what we aim to deliver.”

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