UK pig association calls for industry renewal

Britain needs to see a "gentle and gradual" renewal of its pig industry, leading to more efficient food production and a reduction in the nation's food import bill, says Britain's National Pig Association. The change also means more environmentally friendly farming and will help maintain the nation's reputation for being one of the world's highest welfare pig-producing countries, according to the group.

Britain needs to see a "gentle and gradual" renewal of its pig industry, leading to more efficient food production and a reduction in the nation's food import bill, says Britain's National Pig Association.

The change also means more environmentally friendly farming and will help maintain the nation's reputation for being one of the world's highest welfare pig-producing countries, according to the group.

Currently, British farms produce only 40 percent of Britain's pork and pork products. The rest is imported from countries where pigs are may be produced more intensively.

The association would like to see home production gradually increase to 50 percent. This can only happen if pig farmers have the confidence to replace older buildings, which are less efficient than their modern counterparts and are sometimes in unsuitable locations, the group says.

The association is concerned that opposition to planning applications for new pig units is in danger of halting the pig sector's process of "gentle and gradual renewal."

The group urges local residents who are concerned about any proposed development in their area to talk directly to the farmer concerned and then to trust their own judgment.

Unlike the key pig-producing countries in Europe, Britain has a low density of pigs, which the association considers a prerequisite for healthy, high-welfare production.

The association says that groups that oppose applications for new pig units in Britain pick research carried out in pig-dense countries, and then claim a relevance to Britain.

The group cites groups that said Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcusaureus bacteria spread from pigs to people in Britain. However, the bacteria has not been detected in pigs in Britain, in part because of the low density of animals, the association says.

Other groups have also sought to represent plans for ordinary farm-scale pig buildings as "mega" developments, according to the group.

"We understand that some people would like to see a return to smaller-scale subsistence farming and we respect their right to express this view," said Dr. Zoe Davies, general manager of the National Pig Association.

"And we understand some groups may feel a need to create alarm in order to raise funds, but we do ask that they refrain from misrepresenting modern commercial husbandry which has much to commend it in terms of economic viability, protection of the environment and animal welfare."

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