NPA addresses inaccuracies about pig production in Telegraph article

The NPA has responded to an article in the Telegraph that made a number of inaccurate claims about UK pork production.

The article entitled ‘A Pig’s Life – Conventional versus organic’, appeared in the paper on Monday next to a longer article on why ‘Meat is good for you (and the planet)’. It cited Compassion in World Farming, RSPCA and the Soil Association as its sources.

The article that ‘half of British sows are kept in cages so small they can’t turn around or do natural tasks like building a nest for their young or foraging for food’ and that 93% of pigs are kept ‘entirely indoors’ and can ‘attack and eat each other’ if not managed properly. It also stated that some pigs are ‘routinely given antibiotics when not unwell to encourage them to put on weight’.

In a letter for publication sent to the Telegraph today, NPA policy services officer Lizzie Wilson said she was ‘extremely disappointed’ to read the inaccurate references to UK pig production in the article.

“Sadly, you have not chosen to derive your information from credible sources, or current legislation, and in so doing have misrepresented the truth,” she wrote.

She highlighted that, far from ‘half of British sows are kept in cages so small they can’t turn around’, the farrowing crates referred to are ‘used for a short period of time to protect vulnerable new born piglets during and after birth, not least because a sow is around 150 times the size of the piglets’. “For the remaining time, sows on all UK farms roam freely in groups either indoors or outdoors,” she added.

“Routine use of antibiotics is prohibited in the pig sector – in fact the UK pig sector has voluntarily more than halved antibiotic usage within two years. Furthermore, antibiotic growth promoters were banned by the EU in 2006.

“As you will know given the recent coverage in your own paper, the standards of animal welfare in the UK are some of the highest in the world and far and above many other countries, particularly those trying to encourage us to import their pork which is produced to a much lower standard.

“Therefore, articles using erroneous and inflammatory information only seek to further undermine the commitment and hard work of our British farmers in caring for the health and welfare of their pigs.”

Lizzie also sent a longer letter to the editor addressing each inaccuracy in more detail with factual evidence, which the NPA hopes will ensure there is no repeat in future.

This letter can be viewed HERE

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About The Author

Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.