April 2016: Stirring up a hornet’s nest

So, it seems, as has happened many times in the past, whenever we promote what’s great about British pork, we well and truly poke the vegan anti-farming lobby hornets’ nest. The activity that we’ve been dealing with during the past few weeks has been unprecedented, with 18 units targeted in so-called “exposés” in the course of a week.

Some of the material released was from last summer. Typically, it’s a case of them taking footage of what they describe as absolutely horrendous conditions on British pig farms, then sitting on it for several months. They don’t mention it to the RSCPA or any other organisation, but wait until they can get the best possible exposure for their pathetic organisation from the gutter press. Splendid!

Another group targeted a business that had a planning application in progress as a way of building public pressure against the proposal, and yet another – even though it had illegally entered farms in the dead of night – took the unusual route of sending footage directly to APHA rather than the press.

I’m happy to say that in all cases, no welfare issues were found on the farms, but in pretty much every case we see these days, pictures of dead stock and medicine bottles with syringes still poking out of them are common. This is pure gold to these people. Even if the scenes have been mocked up, which isn’t uncommon, they’re still getting access to the material they need, so please don’t make it so easy for them!

More often than not, you won’t even realise you’ve had a visit until the exposé is about to hit the paper, as our farms are generally still very open and the activists are very bold. I know it’s a faff putting locks on everything, but as those farmers who’ve been targeted will agree, far better they can’t get to anything than you risk the impact any headline in The Daily Mail could have on your business.

We’ll be sending out the NPA Tidy Unit campaign posters in the next couple of weeks, so please do put them up and take a few extra minutes to go through the checklist at the end of each day. It could save you an awful lot of heartache and stress later on.

There’s some good news from the EC in that the long-awaited guidance on manipulable materials has finally been released, and it looks like our sustained lobbying paid off in the end. At one point the information was going to be enforceable, but they’ve now gone back to the original idea that it should be guidance only.

We also managed to change the requirement for all materials to have to be edible back to being one of a range of preferable characteristics, so a big sigh of relief from us. How the information is to be interpreted by Defra will, of course,  now need to be discussed, but we can live with most of it.

The only thing that did irritate me was that apparently the EC plans to check tail docking compliance in some member states, although the UK isn’t one of them. There have been no checks on sow stall compliance at all, so maybe we can get them to look at that at the same time!

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About The Author

Dr Zoë Davies is chief executive of the NPA. For more information visit: www.npa-uk.org.uk