The UK’s National Pig Association has accused two of the country’s leading animal welfare bodies of threatening the welfare of pigs on British farms.

According to the association, Compassion in World Farming and the Soil Association have launched new campaigns to prevent pig producers from replacing worn-out housing, even though modern pig housing is more welfare- and environment-friendly, as well as being more efficient. “If these two organizations are successful in their aims, the British pig herd will shrink as older housing becomes uneconomic, and the growing gap in production will be taken up by lower-welfare imports,” said the association.

In particular, the National Pig Association has condemned Compassion in World Farming for sending quasi-official letters to pig farmers in which it threatens to oppose planning applications unless the applicants disclose confidential management information to Compassion in World Farming. In addition, the National Pig Association calls out the Soil Association for supplying planners with what they say is misinformation intended to give the impression that British pigs are produced in the same way as intensive pig production in other countries. “The peasant farming idyll promoted by these two organizations has little relevance in a world with a fast-growing population that needs affordable food,” said National Pig Association Chairman Stewart Houston. “If their continued attacks on our higher-welfare British pig industry are successful, they will succeed in shutting down pig production in Britain and supermarkets will import more lower-welfare pork from elsewhere in the world.”

Most of the objections raised by Compassion in World Farming and the Soil Association were not related to planning matters and should be ignored by planners, said Houston. For instance, Compassion in World Farming had written to applicants demanding to know the precise nature of the enrichment materials to be used in proposed new housing. Houston said the National Pig Association was particularly concerned that the constant attacks on British pig production would soon reach a point where most pig producers were dissuaded from putting up new housing, because of the planning difficulties involved. “If their intention is to drive economic pig production out of Britain, then there is a real danger they will succeed, but I fail to see who will benefit,” said Houston. “Consumers won’t, producers won’t and the pigs left in old, inefficient buildings won’t, either.”