The Government is focussed on maintaining our high standards in animal welfare. During our membership of the EU, the UK was usually the leader in pressing for higher farming standards against the objection of other members, and our commitment to maintaining those standards is not compromised by Brexit. Through our work on the Agriculture Act and the Environment Bill, this Government is supporting the welfare of animals across our countryside. I also welcome the plans to introduce tougher sentencing for animal cruelty cases which will result in legislation in the near future.
British agriculture has among the highest welfare standards in the world, and all livestock farms must comply with comprehensive environmental and animal welfare legislation. I am pleased that DEFRA’s code of practice for the welfare of pigs has been published, and it is available online at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/908108/code-practice-welfare-pigs.pdf
This new code sets out the highest standards on how to keep pigs, using the latest scientific and veterinary advice to safeguard and enhance welfare standards and I urge all farmers and those in the industry to take full heed of it.
DEFRA is currently examining the evidence on the use of cages for farm animals and I look forward to the conclusions and proposals which will result from this work. Ministers have been clear that it is their ambition that farrowing crates should no longer be used for sows. Indeed, the new pig welfare code clearly states that “the aim is for farrowing crates to no longer be necessary and for any new system to protect the welfare of the sow, as well as her piglets.” I am pleased to confirm the UK is already ahead of most pig producing countries in terms of non-confinement farrowing, with around 40 per cent of our pigs housed outside and not farrowed with crates.
Our country’s high animal welfare standards are something to be proud of and will continuously be maintained and improved. However, if things do go wrong and an animals’ welfare is compromised, I would urge anyone with information about it to report the matter to the RSPCA and their local city, district, or borough council which will have responsibility for enforcement action in animal welfare cases too.