RSPCA Campaign: Farmers Express Mixed Feelings

UK - Farmers in Gloucestershire have given a mixed reaction to a new campaign to improve labelling on pork products.
calendar icon 13 January 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

The RSPCA wants supermarkets and other food retailers to help develop a voluntary labelling scheme because there are no set definitions for pig welfare standards such as free range.

A survey for the charity found just two per cent of consumers understood the terms used on pork products such as free range and outdoor bred, although 83 per cent agreed that animal welfare was an important consideration when buying the meat.

The Rooting for Pigs campaign is backed by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, whose programme on pig welfare airs as part of Channel 4's Great British Food Fortnight later this month.

David Graham, who has 200 pigs at his farm in Moreton-in-Marsh, said he felt the charity would be better off lobbying the Government over the importing of meat from other European countries.

Some farmers there, he said, were still rearing pigs using methods that are legal on the continent but were banned in Britain in 1998.

"I would have thought that would be a far more worthy campaign to be backing," he said.

"I have no problem with clearer labelling though, I think the consumer needs to know that to make an informed decision."

Mr Graham feels the information should also include which country meat has come from.

His animals were kept indoors but had access to daylight and were reared on straw, reports

He said: "We look after our animals. They're very happy."

During the past few weeks the Echo has received letters from concerned readers criticising factory farming of pigs, particularly the practice of keep sows in farrowing crates – a metal cage so confined they can't turn around to tend to their piglets.

Steve Kincart has about 200 pigs on his farm at Burley Fields Lakes in Leckhampton.

He said he kept them outside for the majority of the year and sold the meat at his own shop.

He feels the RSPCA means well with its campaign but is not sure it will make a difference.

He said: "A lot of supermarket meat comes from abroad anyway so I don't know if this campaign is going to work.

"I might be wrong but I don't think there are enough pig farmers in this country to supply the supermarkets.

"It's a good idea but I can't see it working."

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