The GTWH Campaign is highlighting concerns in the pig industry that consumers need to know about. Self regulation by these industries is not working and consumers are not being protected by government to enable them to make informed food purchasing decisions. South African consumers are in need of campaigns like GTWH to bring these issues to light otherwise they will remain forever duped and ignorant. Perhaps SAPO should encourage transparency by way of farm and processing plants visits if they truly want to assuage the concerns of consumers in South Africa. Only through public awareness will much needed change be brought about.
Grass Consumer Action fully supports this campaign.
Please contact Karen (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mark (email@example.com) to offer your support to their campaign by way of writing a letter and providing your input and reasons for support. We need to let media know that this campaign is relevant, truthful and important, not only for the animals suffering under these conditions but to enable consumers to make informed decisions.
SAPO RESPONDS TO THE GTWH CAMPAIGN AND CALLS FOR MEDIA SUPPORT 30 May 2014
Going the Whole Hog campaign is misleading the public For several months now the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (SAPPO) has been monitoring communications issued by the Going the Whole Hog (GTWH) campaign, an animal rights organisation based in Cape Town. This group has communicated with several media outlets and, to our knowledge, two media houses have published their point of view regarding the pig industry in South Africa. In both instances SAPPO was not approached for comment. Our concern that this may happen again has prompted us to issue this release. We would like to set the record straight in terms of what the Going the Whole Hog campaign is saying and to also encourage any media outlet who receives communication from the campaign to also obtain comment from us in line with sound, ethical journalistic practice. We have resisted for some time responding to the GTWH campaign; we did not want to lend credence to a campaign that is quite clearly out of touch by making public our views on the matter. However, in light of the continued dissemination of their vitriol against a legitimate and highly-regarded industry, we feel compelled to take our displeasure public. Of grave concern is the assertion by the GTWH campaign that “very few consumers know that pigs in South Africa are, for the most part, the worst treated of all commercially farmed animals.” We are further troubled by the campaign’s aim of pushing the agenda for ‘free range pork products’ and their call to “increase the supply of genuinely free-range and ethical pork in South Africa by empowering emerging farmers.” Apart from being defamatory in the extreme, it appears that the GTWH campaign lacks even the most basic insight into an industry that is innovative, compliant with legislation and, above all, humane. It does not take into account the fact that treating pigs well is the cornerstone of any successful pig farmer’s operation and, in our opinion, ignores the massive changes (at great cost) the industry is undertaking. By linking so-called free-range pig farming to ethical farming it is also making the assumption that pork products not farmed from free-range pigs are unethical, a point of view that is both scurrilous and uninformed. By linking all of this to empowering emerging farmers furthermore exemplifies their lack of knowledge of the real situation of the pig industry in South Africa. This leads us to conclude that this campaign is nothing more than a front to ensure the total decimation of the reputation of the pig industry in South Africa and by extension the livelihoods of pig farmers across the country. The real facts Since 2010 SAPPO, in conjunction with pig farmers, has been making great strides in converting sow stalls to open pens. While the deadline for these conversions is 2020, close to 50 percent of all sows have been moved to open pens. In addition all new pig farms being built since this date are being created, from the outset, with open pens. It must be pointed out that converting sow stalls to open pens is expensive. Despite this, close to 50 percent of the country’s farmers have done so. We believe this heavy financial outlay is one example that points to the huge care with which pig farmers treat their animals. Furthermore there are extremely clear regulations that govern how pigs are kept and fed in South Africa. For example, Regulation 24 of the Animal Diseases Act 35 of 1984 states that “no person shall feed any infectious or contaminated thing to pigs.” It further states that “no person shall feed any protein of ruminant origin (except milk and milk products) to any animals except predators and carnivores…” According to SAPPO veterinarian Dr Peter Evans, “this would mean that anyone feeding animals that have died from any diseases would be in trouble and secondly there are a few diseases of pigs that can be transmitted to other via meat so a farmer would be crazy to feed carcasses of other animals to healthy pigs.” “Additionally farmers who make a business out of farming will want to have a low-risk outcome to their method of farming, in other words, the result must be assured. Farmers are therefore more likely to use tried and tested high-quality plant based raw materials in their feeds. Low-quality grains have high risk of mycotoxins and this potentially lead to disease and poor performance in pigs,” Dr Evans adds. Lastly, we believe that linking free-range farming to ethical farming – thereby inferring farming not done in this manner is unethical – is dangerous, libelous and ill-informed. Across the length and breadth of South Africa are farmers who have been farming with pigs for many years, in some cases for generations. These farmers employ the best (in many cases most expensive) methods and technologies to ensure the quality of their products is of the highest standard. All of this is done within a framework of good farming practice that espouses sound ethics in the treatment of animals. It must be noted that there are a number of small scale ‘backyard’ pig farmers who do not fall into this category. These farmers are not members of SAPPO. Because of this, SAPPO has consistently worked with local farmers and farming associations, in conjunction with local and national government structures to assist these emerging farmers. A lot of time and money has been given to educating these farmers and ensuring the improvement of their operations. However, it is unfortunate that many of these farmers view pig farming as an easy endeavour and one where quick money can be made. This is most certainly not the case. Through our efforts we have improved many farms in this category but new entrants continue to emerge that simply do not follow the regulations. These farmers – and their products – cannot be compared to those who run major farms and who are members of SAPPO. Quite clearly, though, the vast majority of pig farmers in South Africa are professional and skilled farmers who run clean, humane and legitimate farms with the aim of providing the best possible product to market. In light of the above we encourage any media outlet who has received any communication from the GTWH campaign to seek comment from us before publishing any article on the pork industry as we remain the best source of information on the matter. ENDS NOTES TO EDITORS About SAPPO The South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (SAPPO) is the mouthpiece of commercial pork producers in South Africa. The organisation serves the South African pork producer by co-operating within the organised agricultural fraternity and by liaising with various sectoral organisations, role-players within the supply chain of the meat industry, government and international interest groups. SAPPO is a broad-based and dynamic service provider and facilitator, representing and supporting all South Africa’s pig farmers in their quest for profitability and sustainability. The organisation is recognised by the government and other agricultural role-players as the mouthpiece and representative organisation for pork producers. It provides a one-stop service which aims at presenting the South African pork producer’s point of view from various platforms. SAPPO serves a small but dynamic industry consisting of:
- Approximately 110 400 sows owned by approximately 230 pig farmers.
- 153 registered pig abattoirs, applying modern technology to ensure a streamlined slaughtering process, responsible for the slaughtering of 2.6 million pigs annually.
- 6 stud breeders.
For more information on SAPPO please visit www.sapork.biz Follow us on Twitter on @PorkSouthAfrica Issued on behalf of SAPPO by: LGB Media For more information on please contact: Layton Beard The GTWH Campaign is highlighting concerns in the pigs industry that consumers need to know about. Self regulation by these industries are not working and consumers are not being protected by government to enable them to make informed food purchasing decisions. South African consumers are in need of campaigns like GTWH to bring these issues to light otherwise they will remain forever duped and ignorant. Perhaps SAPO should encourage transparency by way of farm and processing plants visits if they truly want to assuage the concerns of consumers in South Africa. Grass Consumer Action fully supports this campaing.