The National Pig Association (NPA) is introducing a confidential reporting service to help maintain the highest standards of animal welfare on British pig farms.
The service is also designed to protect pig-keepers from “bogus claims” by vegan activists who periodically attempt to gain unauthorised entry to pig buildings. This will be achieved by the placing of an obligation on everyone employed on, or visiting, a participating pig unit to immediately report any disquiet they may have about any aspect of animal welfare, either directly to a senior member of staff, or using a confidential hotline.
“The British pig industry is globally renowned for its high animal welfare standards and this new service will help us demonstrate to consumers that our reputation is well-deserved,” said NPA chief executive Dr Zoe Davies.
“Many of our members will want to sign up for the service because they, more than anyone, want to know if any aspect of their husbandry is falling below acceptable standards.
“Importantly it will help us deal quickly and responsibly with the claims of animal rights activists who from time to time trespass on livestock farms. In future, if they see anything wrong they will be under a moral and contractual obligation to report it immediately, so that appropriate measures can be taken.”
The service, which will be operated independently by a specialist provider, is free to farm assured pig-keepers. It will be funded from the statutory pig levy.
The company providing the service will guarantee caller confidentiality and filter out any “vexatious calls”. It will also provide translation services for Eastern European workers on British pig farms.
A poster will be prominently displayed on all participating pig units, giving the hotline number and advising all employees and visitors: “Whether you are an employee or a visitor, by entering this site you accept that everything you see is confidential, except that if you observe any aspect of animal welfare that causes you concern you must report it immediately to the unit owner or a senior member of staff or to the confidential reporting service Safecall (where there is no need to give your name).”
In the event of being notified of any concerns about a pig unit, NPA is committed to working with BPEX to “determine a proportionate response” which may include asking Assured Food Standards to carry out a spot check using an independent auditor.
“Confidential reporting services are an accepted part of the landscape of commercial, construction, and industrial sectors these days,” said NPA. “It is likely such services will increasingly be used in primary food production, as a way of ensuring high standards.”