Viva! pig farming advert ‘totally misleading’ – Lister

NPA chairman Richard Lister has described an anti-pig farming advert by vegan campaign group Viva! as ‘totally misleading’.

The NPA has reported the UK’s first vegan cinema advert, which claims that 90% of pigs are factory farmed, to the Advertising Standards Authority.

“It’s totally misleading,” Mr Lister told the Daily Telegraph. “The UK pig industry is rightfully proud of its welfare, it’s got the highest level of welfare in the world, in excess of 90 per cent of the pigs belong to the Red Tractor assurance scheme.”

“All farms are visited on a quarterly basis and as far as we are concerned the advert is misleading, as the Viva campaign has been throughout the year.”

Viva! hopes its advert, titled Hope and Hell’ will reach 2.25m people. Crowdfunded by the it supporters, who raised more than £102,000 to fund it, its run began on December 1 and is due to end on January 4. It is being shown ahead of films including Star Wars and Murder On The Orient Express.

Contrary to being dominated by factory farms, the UK pig sector is, in fact, one of the most diverse in the world, with even its largest indoor farms nowhere near on the scale of the some of the units found elsewhere in the world, for example, in the US.

A combination of EU and UK legislation and schemes like Red Tractor ensure our standards our world leading. For example, the UK banned sow stalls in 1999, around 15 years ahead of the rest of the EU, while the systems are still commonplace in the US, Canada, Brazil and many other countries.

A recent report by the Pig Health and Welfare Council showed:

  • Around 40% of England’s commercial pig breeding herd is kept outdoors
  • Of the remaining 60%, most indoor sows are kept in straw-based systems until farrowing
  • 20% of weaners, 5% of growers and 2% of finishers are kept outdoors
  • 40% of weaners, 60% of growers and 45% of finishers are kept on straw indoors, with the rest kept on indoor slatted floors.

This range of systems is virtually unique with most major EU countries primarily raising pigs indoors in slatted systems.

Richard said: “The UK pig industry is incredibly proud of its high welfare standards. The point is that, whatever the size and systems of our farms, farmers take welfare very seriously and deliver very high standards.

“We urge the public to see through this misleading propaganda. There are very much two sides to this story.”

Viva! claimed its figures showed a true representation of the British pig industry.

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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.