Toys for pigs?
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2003–
BRUSSELS–British agricultural officials
and information media are significantly
misrepresenting an October 2001 European Union
directive on pig welfare, says European
Commission spokesperson Beate Gminder.
“Britain’s farmers have three months to
place a toy in every pigsty or face up to 90 days
in prison or a £1,000 fine,” BBC declared on
January 29, 2003.
“We mean footballs and basketballs.
Farmers may need to change the balls so that the
pigs don’t get tired of them,” a U.K. Department
for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
spokesperson told The Times.
“Britain’s three million pigs are
guaranteed a playful future,” added The
Guardian, reviewing the appeal to pigs of rubber
boots, footballs, radios, toy fire engines,
dolls, cricket bats, and Scrabble sets.
“The day of the toy inspector has
arrived. The dictators of Europe have dreamed
this up,” Warminister hog farmer Neville Meeker
complained to Farmers’ Weekly.
Corrected Gminder, “To make this very,
very clear, our directive does not talk about
toys.” Instead, Gminder told Agence
France-Presse, the directive specifies that
“Pigs should have permanent access to a
sufficient quantity of material to enable proper
investigation and manipulation activities, such
as straw, hay, wood, sawdust, mushroom
compost, or a mixture of such. These are all
naturally available on a farm,” Gminder said,
“and no farmer should need to buy extra toys to
keep his pigs happy.”
Commented Joyce DeSilva, chief executive
of the British group Compassion In World Farming,
“It is quite clear that there are people in the
Department for Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs with little knowledge of pigs, apart
perhaps from those they see in toy shops. They
are trivializing the serious issue of outlawing
the keeping of pigs in stalls with barren
The impending EU deadline for improving
pig welfare received serious attention, however,
in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Urging a pro-active response, Can-adian Pork
Council representative Catherine Scovil told
Karen Morrison of The Western Producer that a
voluntary code of practice for hog producers
developed by the CPC, Agriculture Canada, and
the Canadian Agri-Food Research Council should be
incorporated into the Quality Assurance program
now in effect nationwide to promote food safety.
The CPC recommendation is endorsed by
Alberta Pork and Saskatchewan Pork. Governmental
reviews of pig welfare standards are underway in
both Australia and New Zealand, where there is
both industry and activist support for the idea
that new codes of practice should meet the EU