The Sunday expose on intensive pig farming has pushed the shadowy world of indoor pig farming firmly into the spotlight. TVNZ’s Close-up this evening pitted Mike King (and Safe‘s Hans Kreik) off against Chris Trengrove, the Chair of the Pork Board, resulting in a commitment to random visits of other pig farms to see if the one exposed was really a one-off as the Industry claims, which I don’t believe for a minute.
I have always been disappointed that our quite good Animal Welfare Act has been subverted by the Nat-Labs in power, resulting in low-standard Welfare Codes. Frankly, some Codes do not meet the purpose of the Act, which is:
(1) The purpose of this Part is to ensure that owners of animals and persons in charge of animals attend properly to the welfare of those animals.
(2) This Part accordingly— (a) Requires owners of animals, and persons in charge of animals, to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the physical, health, and behavioural needs of the animals are met in accordance with both—(i) Good practice; and (ii) Scientific knowledge
Meanwhile the so-called Code of Welfare for pigs sets minimum space requirements of (read it for yourself):
Pregnant Sows in individual stalls 1.20 (0.6m x 2.0m)
Lactating Sows and litters: Farrowing crates and creep areas 3.2 (total area)
But rather than debate the size of the crate, the real question is whether a cage-reared pigs can ever meet the “physical, health, and behavioural needs of the animals”.
Labour’s Jim Sutton signed off that Code, and Jim Anderton and the Primary Production Select Committee (including the current Ag Minister David Carter) have not sought to change it since. As Sue Kedgley reflected in a recent reflective podcast:
“The Clark-Cullen Government had tremendous opportunities to launch a progressive agenda… [but were] completely out of touch with ordinary New Zealanders. [Take] the whole animal welfare issue as an example – they could have set in motion a process of phasing out those hideous battery hen cages and incredibly cruel sow crates…”
The new Prime Minister and his Agriculture Minister have been superficially shocked by the TVNZ investigation, with Key vowing to take action if this farm is anything more than a rogue operator. It isn’t – crates of that size are legal and widespread in caged pig-farming – so will the Key Government do what Clark-Cullen didn’t and phase the cruel cages out?
One thing’s for sure, Sue Kedgley will continue to fight until someone does.