UK pig farm leaders deliver tough message at Brussels breakfast

The British pig industry has made huge strides in professionalism but is being “sold short by Brussels” in some areas, National Pig Association (NPA) chairman Richard Longthorp told MEPs in Brussels this morning.

Speaking during an all-British breakfast meeting with MEPs he said British pig-keepers were being “shackled by a Brussels executive that did not always inspire confidence in producers or consumers”. 

Recent failings at an EU level, he continued, included insufficient checks and enforcement of the 2013 gestation stall ban and an apparent reluctance to introduce country of origin labelling for processed meats, even lightly processed products such as bacon, ham and sausages.  

“We live in an era where consumers have been faced with a host of real and potential issues and continue to seek more assurances regarding food safety, provenance and ethical and environmental criteria,” he said.

“The British pig industry believes Brussels has a responsibility to address any legitimate and evidence-based concerns, but not to kow-tow to the whims of every lobby group around.”

The NPA chairman highlighted the steps towards professionalism taken by the British industry, including Real Welfare audits, certification of husbandry standards, recording on-farm use of antibiotics and independently-auditing more than 90% of pigs for regulatory compliance and good practice.

“We in Britain are extremely proud of our professional standards and I would hope that others in the European Union would share our enthusiasm for professionalism,” he said.

Mr Longthorp also made time to comment in the developments surrounding the EU/US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), saying that it “afforded a big opportunity for Europe’s high-welfare pork, but it also posed a threat”.

“If internal EU pork markets are opened up to pork produced to lesser standards and with a consequent lower cost of production there is absolutely no doubt what will happen,” he said. “EU pig production will be exported to countries with lower standards. We saw this happen in Britain 15 years ago when we introduced our unilateral stalls ban.”

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