23 February 1996

High standards provide edge

AS partners in the food business, manufacturers and retailers should emphasise the high welfare standards of UK farmers, farm minister Douglas Hogg told the conference.

The sow and tether ban, for example, provided a "marketing edge" over our EU competitors. But he also stressed his opposition to further unilateral action on welfare standards.

MLC chairman, Don Curry, meanwhile, said the recently-announced abattoir rationalisation programme would not lead to any reduction in animal welfare through longer journey times.

Competition resulting from the current over-capacity meant animals were sometimes sourced over a very wide area, he said. Further rationalisation could reduce this tendency and so improve animal welfare.

"Todays 490 abattoirs have a greater capacity than the 1200 existing 15 years ago." Further rationalisation within this sector could increase the pressure on farmers to participate in joint ventures, he added. &#42