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English pig industry introduces confidential reporting service

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To help maintain high standards of animal welfare on British pig farms, theNational Pig Association (NPA) is introducing a confidential reporting service. The service will also protect pig-keepers from bogus claims byanimal rights activists who periodically attempt to gain unauthorized entry to pig buildings.

The service places an obligation on everyone employed on, or visiting, a participating pig unit to immediately report any concern they may have about any aspect of animal welfare, either directly to a senior member of staff, or using a confidential hotline.

The service is operated independently by a specialist provider and is free to farm assured pig-keepers. It will be funded from the statutory pig levy, which is administered by the British Pig Executive (BPEX), a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

“The British pig industry is globally renowned for its high animal welfare standards and this new service will help us demonstrate to consumers that our reputation is well-deserved,” said NPA chief executive Dr. Zoe Davies.

“Many of our members will want to sign up for the service because they, more than anyone, want to know if any aspect of their husbandry is falling below acceptable standards.

“Importantly, it will help us deal quickly and responsibly with the claims of animal rights activists who from time to time trespass on livestock farms. In[the] future, if they see anything wrong they will be under a moral and contractual obligation to report it immediately, so that appropriate measures can be taken.”

The service guarantees caller confidentiality, and can provide translation services for Eastern European workers on British pig farms. It will also filter out vexatious calls (if any).

A poster will be prominently displayed on all participating pig units, giving the hotline number and advising all employees and visitors: “Whether you are an employee or a visitor, by entering this site you accept that everything you see is confidential, except that if you observe any aspect of animal welfare that causes you concern you must report it immediately to the unit owner or a senior member of staff or to the confidential reporting service Safecall (where there is no need to give your name).”

In the event of being notified of any concerns about a pig unit, NPA will work with BPEX to determine a proportionate response, which may include asking Assured Food Standards to carry out a spot check using an independent auditor.

Confidential reporting services are an accepted part of the landscape of commercial, construction, and industrial sectors these days. It is likely such services will increasingly be used in primary food production, as a way of ensuring high standards.