Writing in the August issue of Pig World, NPA chief policy adviser Rebecca Veale welcomes the Government’s change of heart on welfare labelling and explains how the NPA responded to a Defra consultation on penalty notices
The Government has recently announced that they will not be consulting on proposals to introduce welfare labelling, following pushback from NPA and stakeholder groups.
The proposals for mandatory welfare labelling in pork, poultry and eggs in retail would have seen a split in the pork supply chain adding significant cost. Defra said the labels would ‘seek to simplify and clarify existing welfare labels’, but we argued this would not provide consumers with more information than they already have given the Pork Provenance Code is widely used.
The work on eco labels continues and, whilst only voluntary, these would likely contradict the welfare labels proposed, adding further confusion for consumers.
Having responded to the Government’s Call for Views in 2021, we met with the Defra team last autumn to discuss the proposals and share the NPA’s position. We continued to raise concerns, but the Defra team were adamant these proposals would be consulted on.
In turn, NPA joined forces with other industry groups to write to Minister Spencer to iterate the impact they could have on the sector whilst not delivering more for consumers. The position of the sector was made clear again when the NPA Pig Industry Group invited the Defra welfare labelling team to join their meeting, which is why the team was very pleased that Defra has taken the decision not to consult now.
The Defra team still wants to improve transparency and provide the industry with a ‘level playing field’ to promote higher welfare products, but future work will include looking at how welfare labelling could align with wider labelling proposals, such as eco-labelling.
We are so pleased Defra has listened to us and others throughout the supply chain on this and will continue to work with them to ensure any future moves to increase transparency in the pork supply chain are both proportionate and effective.
NPA responded to a Defra consultation on the proposed introduction of penalty notices for animal health and welfare offences in England. They believe new and proportionate financial penalties for animal health and welfare offences could add to, and complement, the current enforcement regime to support early behaviour change to promote compliance and better protect the nation’s animals.
NPA has been involved in the discussions about this policy development for some time and responded to the consultation to support the proposals. However, NPA did note that continuity across the country is essential – as such, guidance and frameworks for inspectors is needed to provide a consistent and proportionate approach to the use of penalty notices.
The use of penalty notices is likely to follow advice and guidance from the inspector to the keeper and NPA suggested Government collaborate with industry to ensure the guidance is relevant to commercial pig production.