Following an in-depth evaluation of the proposed Red Tractor pig standards which have been released for consultation, the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) pork and bacon committee are greatly concerned that several of the suggestions will create seismic changes for a large majority of its pig producers.
UFU pork and bacon chairman Glenn Cuddy said, “The proposed changes to the Red Tractor standards for pigs is extremely worrying. We met recently with Red Tractor to outline our concerns for all sectors as a number of suggestions that have been put forward are unnecessary, and in some ways, overbearing. We have a great appreciation for Red Tractor and the work that they do regulating on-farm standards in the areas of food safety, animal welfare and the environment to ensure the UK’s world leading standards are maintained, but this is a step to far.”
The proposals outline a number of additional requirements relating to the management of staff, the need for all farmers to complete online training on how to handle pigs correctly regardless of their experience and an increase of record-keeping.
Mr Cuddy added: “The proposal relating to staff and online training which dismisses farmers’ experience is very condescending. There are pig producers who have been running pig farms to the highest standards for generations and all of a sudden their practices that have been acceptable for Red Tractor to date, will no longer be satisfactory. At the very least there should be an exception for those farmers who have been working with pigs for a long period of time.
“In regard to the matter of record keeping, we are struggling to understand how this ties into animal welfare which is one of Red Tractor’s primary focuses. Increasing the volume of records will do nothing to improve animal welfare on-farm but will certainly add extra pressure for our farmers who already have an immense workload to manage and it will provide little benefit in return,”.
The proposals are due to come into effect in November 2021 after a period of consultation. The UFU is urging all pig producers to take time to review what the proposals will mean for their business and to respond to the consultation.
For more information and to respond to the consultation click here.