"Thank you for contacting me about the use of cages for farm animals.
I would like to assure you that my ministerial colleagues and I take the welfare of all animals seriously. Since publishing the Action Plan for Animal Welfare, the Government has delivered an ambitious legislative programme, bringing significant improvements for animals both in the UK and abroad. Ministers are firmly committed to maintaining the UK’s strong track record on animal welfare and to delivering continued improvements, both in the course of this Parliament and beyond.
I have noted your comments in relation to the import of food and the use of cages for animals and will continue to monitor this issue closely. However, I understand that my ministerial colleagues do not believe that the time is right to consult on cage reforms, recognising some of the challenges that numerous sectors have faced in recent years. I am informed that the market is already driving the move away from using cages for laying hen production, with over 60 per cent of eggs coming from free range production. Regarding pigs, the UK also has a significant outdoor pig sector, with 40 per cent of the national sow breeding herd farrow freely on outdoor pig units with no option of confinement.
I am assured that the Government will continue to work with the sector to maintain and enhance high standards of welfare. For example, the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway will prioritise areas for additional improvement in the health and welfare for pigs, cattle, sheep and poultry. I know that one of the Government’s priorities for the pathway includes supporting producers to transition away from confinement systems.
Of course, if you have specific concerns about the welfare of an animal, I recommend reporting it to the police or the RSPCA.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Sally-Ann Hart MP."