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NPPC steps up against animal rights activists

America's National Pork Producers Committee (NPPC) has emphasised the willingness of the country's 67,000 pig producers to care for their pigs' wellbeing.

The NPPC felt the need to do so after repeated allegations of inhumane treatment of hogs made by animal activists.

Moral obligation
The NPPC told House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry that the country's pork producers "recognise their moral obligation to provide for the well-being of their animals, and they raise pigs in a humane, compassionate and socially responsible manner."

In a press release, highlighting this plea, the NPPC summed up the implementation of animal welfare programmes, to show pork producers care, including:

• Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) food-safety programme;

• Swine Welfare Assurance Program , an educational and assessment programme that looks at ten specific areas of animal care;

• Trucker Quality Assurance programme for those who handle or transport market hogs.

• Next month, the industry will roll out the PQA Plus programme, which includes producer certification, on-farm assessments of well-being practices and independent, third-party audits.

No pressure
"There was no pressure to implement these programmes other than our belief in doing the right thing for our pigs," Barb Determan, a pork producer from Early, Iowa, and past president of the NPPC, told the subcommittee.

"I am proud to be part of an industry that - on its own - has developed and implemented world-class programs that help pork producers raise and care for their animals in a humane, compassionate and socially responsible manner."

The NPPC told the panel that the nation's 67,000 pork producers oppose bills that would dictate on-farm production practices, including outlawing individual housing for sows, or that ban products such as antibiotics that help producers care for their pigs.

"We do not believe Congress has the understanding or the expertise to decide which on-farm animal production practices are best for our animals," Determan testified.

Mad pig disease?
Determan also questioned a move by the Humane Society of the United States. On May 8, Wayne Pacelle, CEO and president, claimed that research had suggested hogs could in theory suffer from 'a porcine form of mad cow disease.'

However, according to NPPC, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) is not a risk in pigs.

"Wayne Pacelle either misled Congress, or he's ignorant of the facts," said Determan.

Related website:
• National Pork Producers Council (NPPC)
• Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

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