Freedom Food on collision course with pig producers
RSPCA has set itself on a collision course with British farmers.
It has told members of its Freedom Food scheme they will be suspended if they voluntarily take part in government's cull of badgers.
The aim of the cull, which will be carried out by trained marksmen, is to reduce the high incidence of bovine tuberculosis — a notifiable disease — in the national cattle herd.
According to the British Veterinary Association, the continuing spread of bovine tuberculosis in cattle and wildlife has "an unacceptable impact on animal health and welfare and the potential for being a very serious risk to public health".
NPA is keen to arrange a meeting with Freedom Food to discuss the implications of its intervention in government health policy.
In a letter to scheme members, Freedom Food says it would regard it as "unacceptable" for any member to voluntarily take part in a badger cull.
To do so would bring the scheme into disrepute "and be a clear breach of the membership agreement", says Freedom Food.
Any member who disobeys the Freedom Food injunction will be suspended.
Freedom Food quotes the RSPCA's welfare standards for farm animals which require Freedom Food members "to apply all reasonable non-lethal and humane methods" when controlling or excluding wild animals.
A Freedom Food pig producer has written to NPA expressing serious concern about Freedom Food's policy on the government-approved badger cull.
"Since when was it appropriate for a supposedly legitimate welfare organisation to effectively prescribe objection to carefully debated and legally-tested government policy?" he asks.
If and when it meets with Freedom Food, NPA will point out that pig farmers need to control foxes, which savage outdoor piglets, and rats, which spread disease — and realistically this means shooting and baiting.
Producers are concerned about the future of Freedom Food as a viable scheme if it prevents pig producers from operating responsibly and economically.
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Source: pig world