May 2, 2013
Britain's ability to produce pork is threatened by vegan activists and increased urbanisation of the countryside, among other issues.
In a statement released last week, the National Pig Association (NPA) said it was concerned with the opposition pig farmers were facing when applying for planning permission to set up pig units.
Its concern was backed up by NPA figures, showing that Britain already imports 60% (a figure set to rise) of its pork and pork products, which can be from less welfare-friendly farms.
In-part, the NPA identified a "growing trend for vegan groups" as well as other "single-interest" lobby groups becoming involved in planning applications, by using "misinformation to frighten local residents into opposing new and replacement pig farms". It was also claimed that pig farmers were being targeted by organisations with no local connections.
NPA general manager Zoe Davies said, "We have even heard of pig farmers who have received threatening phone calls and emails from the other side of the world, accusing them of being 'factory farmers', which they most certainly are not."
It was difficult to obtain the cost caused to the industry by animal rights activists. But Davies explained that vegan groups have "pounced" on all proposed livestock housing developments since the attempted build of a "super-dairy" in Lincolnshire three years ago.
The NPA said, "There are no 'mega' pig farms in Britain and no applications to build any. Most pig applications are for modest-sized pig units, which will be part of a traditional mixed farm, where the pigs eat the grain grown on the farm and provide organic manure for the crops, in place of chemical fertilisers."
However, animal welfare charity the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (RSPCA) said, "In terms of our farm animal specific campaigning, we work in a number of different ways to encourage improvements, and we always use all available scientific information and practical evidence to support our arguments. Responsibility for farm animal welfare does not just lie with the farmers and stock-keepers that look after them. Governments, food retailers and the consumer all have a lot of power."