Tonight Campbell Live showed new footage recently shot by animal rights activists on four farms in Ashburton, Greytown, Blenheim and Kumeu. Six months on from the Mike King and Sunday exposÃ© and it’s clear nothing has changed in the appalling treatment of pigs in this country.
Not surprisingly, spokesperson for the Pork Board Sam McIvor refused to even comment on the footage. Instead, he continued on with the usual rhetoric about how they’re “phasing down” the use of sow crates and farrowing crates. Campbell did a great job of cutting through the bullshit and forcing McIvor to admit that even after the completion of their “phase down” in 2015, sows will still spend at least 16 weeks of the year in crates where they can’t turn around.
McIvor then moved on to trying to justify the use of crates. His claim that farrowing crates are necessary to prevent sows lying on and killing their babies doesn’t stack up. A comparative study between Sweden and Denmark (Sweden has banned farrowing crates, while Denmark hasn’t) on the mortality rates of piglets found no significant difference between the two countries.
He must also realise it doesn’t stand to reason that sow crates are “necessary” despite only 45% of NZ farmers using them, and that farrowing crates are “necessary” despite 33% of farmers managing to do without them.
Despite losing the battle of public opinion 6 months ago, only one of McIvor’s lines was new – in trying to differentiate between NZ and other countries, he makes out that NZ is wonderful because when sows aren’t in crates they’re often outdoors. Never mind that even at the completion of the Pork Board’s “phase down”, most pigs will still be stuck indoors their whole lives. While some mummy pigs might be allowed outside while not pregnant or nursing (others are kept in group housing indoors), the pigs that actually end up as meat will spend the whole of their short lives overcrowded in fattening pens on concrete or wooden-slatted floors.
Nothing much has changed on the political front either. Despite Minister of Agriculture David Carter instructing NAWAC in May to “give this review the highest priority in its work programme’ and that he ‘would like to be able to issue a new code of welfare for pigs by the end of this year”, NAWAC haven’t even begun to review the code. Hans Kriek from SAFE says:
SAFE understands the review of the pig code by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee is well behind schedule. We doubt we will see any sign of a draft code this year, which will mean over 20,000 pigs in crates will continue to suffer until next year, if not longer.
Carter can’t play dumb and pretend he doesn’t know what’s happening anymore. He could quite happily get this issue off the agenda by legislating to fix up the loopholes in the Animal Welfare Act that allow these practices to continue.
You can help put pressure on the Minister and Supermarkets that stock factory farmed pork products. Take SAFE’s pledge against pig cruelty and order a free consumer action pack.