A rapid decrease in the number of people having connections to farming is frequently blamed for the problems faced by the meat sector in the form of unreasonable welfare demands and complaints about production practices.

Under these circumstances we should be grateful to every pig producer who agrees to open up the farm to visits by townspeople.

These farm viewing occasions are becoming ever more popular, according to European data. In the Netherlands in 2010, for example, the pig units offering open days received about 70,000 people compared with 60,000 in 2009.

Any farmer who has tried to accept visitors from nearby towns will testify how challenging it can be. Not everyone who comes is well behaved or obeys the signs.

Worse still can be the challenge of answering questions from people who see the everyday aspects of a livestock farm from a completely different perspective. On pig units, this can often mean trying to find some way of persuading an urban resident that putting a sow into a farrowing crate is not a form of torture.