NPA chairman Richard Lister has invited Shadow Defra Secretary Sue Hayman to his farm to discuss the realities of commercial pig farming.
The invitation follows the publication in February of the Labour Party’s 50-point draft animal welfare policy document, which includes plans to use subsidies to incentivise a move away from ‘intensive factory farming’ systems. It also includes a commitment to phase out farrowing crates ‘with a reasonable phase-out period, replacing with safe, free-farrowing systems’.
In a letter to Mrs Hayman, Mr Lister explains that the British pig industry is proud of its record in providing consumers with traceable, affordable, high quality produce, while ensuring that the nation’s pigs are reared and slaughtered to high health and welfare standards.
The letter covers various aspects of pig farming, including pig welfare and the diversity of the UK’s production systems, as well as the complex issues around switching from farrowing crates to indoor free farrowing systems. Mr Lister also outlines the excellent progress the industry has made in reducing antibiotic usage and explains why the NPA does not agree with assertions that large farms are associated with poorer animal welfare or environmental standards.
“The NPA strongly believes that animal welfare is not dictated solely by farm size or by the type of farming system,” the letter says.
The letter concludes by welcoming the interest shown by the Labour Party in addressing the issues affecting the pig sector and inviting Mrs Hayman and colleagues to Mr Lister’s farm in Yorkshire.
Mr Lister said: “We noted Labour’s proposals with interest and we thought it would be valuable to meet up in person on my farm, so we can further understand the Labour Party’s approach to pig farming in more detail.
“It would also be an opportunity to highlight the pride the British pig industry has in our world-leading welfare standards and to explore some of the challenges of running a commercial pig business.”
“We look forward to discussing these issues further with Mrs Hayman and colleagues in person.”
At the recent NFU conference, Mr Lister challenged Shadow Farming Minister David Drew on Labour’s stance on what it describes as ‘mega farms’.