Thank you for contacting me about pig welfare.
The UK has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and it is only right that we continue to raise the bar. The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 introduced tougher penalties for animal cruelty, with a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and / or an unlimited fine for animal cruelty offences. If you believe or suspect that animal cruelty has taken place, you should report the matter to the police or the RSPCA who can investigate further.
The Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare sets out the ambition to improve the welfare of farmed animals, including pigs. The Government is committed to working with the industry to raise animal welfare standards across the board.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (Defra’s) Statutory Welfare Code of Practice for pigs provides guidance to pig producers on the legal requirements and how to practice high standards of animal welfare, using the latest scientific and veterinary advice. Ministers have been considering different pig production systems that are used both in the UK and in other countries. Any decisions made on cage reforms would need to take full consideration of the implications for animal welfare and for the sectors concerned, including a realistic phase out period to secure achievement of better welfare goals and sustainability for the industry.
In July 2022, Defra launched a UK-wide review of supply chain fairness in the pig sector seeking views on potential improvements that could be made to ensure a profitable and productive future for the industry. A consultation was carried out in response to recent challenges experienced by the sector, due to global pressures including rising costs and labour shortages, which raised questions about the functioning of the supply chain. I look forward to reading a summary of responses in due course.
I am aware that the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board has issued guidance on the artificial insemination of pigs. This guidance encourages pig farmers to regularly carry out staff training on artificial insemination, as well as review management strategies and the effectiveness of interventions. I understand that there is an Artificial Insemination (AI) Standard for Pigs, which is an industry-led working code of practice to assure standards of AI are received by pork producers. The latest version of this Standard was agreed in January 2021. More information can be found here: https://ahdb.org.uk/knowledge-library/artificial-insemination-ai-standard-for-pigs
Sally-Ann Hart MP