The Agriculture Bill contains plenty of positive elements for the pig sector, but there is also much room for improvement, according to the NPA.
The association’s senior policy adviser Ed Barker has put together a detailed briefing on the era-defining Bill, published by Defra Secretary Theresa Villiers earlier this month. It highlights the elements of the Bill the NPA welcomes and supports, and the areas it feels need to be changed or included.
For example, the NPA welcomes provisions for financial assistance to protect or improve the health or welfare of livestock. “It is vital that both health and welfare are seen as interrelated, and we are pleased that the Bill reflects this,” the document states.
However, it adds that the Bill should be made more explicit about the scope of support for livestock producers to continue to driving responsible antibiotic use in a way that does not jeopardise pig health or welfare.
Similarly, we welcome the Bill’s aim to help farmers manage livestock in a way that mitigates or adapts to climate change. For example, newer buildings are also far more environmentally efficient, requiring less energy, whilst minimising ammonia and other emissions.
But the Bill should be more explicit in assisting farmers to improve manure and slurry storage and invest in better management and handling facilities.
The NPA ‘strongly applauds’ the Government’s intent to include food security within the scope of the Bill. However, the NPA believes that this reporting should take place every two years, not every five years, as the Bill currently proposes.
Transparency and the supply chain
The NPA is encouraged that the Bill will allow the Secretary of State to collect data from the supply chain. “An effective, transparent and fully operational supply chain is a must to ensure the long term viability of the pig sector,” the document says.
But we want the Bill to go further in the form of mandatory codes of conduct similar to the existing Grocery Supply Code of Practice, devised in conjunction with industry to ‘ensure that processors and retailers are acting as they should and provide producers with information on what is or is not acceptable behaviour’.
What is missing?
The document also highlights what is missing from the Bill, including ‘making it clearer that our food standards will be maintained and protected’.
The NPA, along with many other food, farming and environmental organisations insists the Bill must be clearer that such food products produced to standards that fall far below those expected within the UK and even the EU ‘will never reach UK shelves’.
The document also highlights the Bill’s lack of reference to improving public procurement, despite public pronouncements from government ministers supporting it as a policy priority.
You can view the briefing, which is being sent to MPs, HERE