Tracy’s nerve-racking mission
One evening in July, under cover of the fading light, Tracy climbed over a wall to get into the grounds and corrugated iron sheds of a small farm in the English countryside. With a cameraman, she waited until dusk. They hoped the farm workers had clocked off by then, but couldn’t be sure. If caught, they faced being prosecuted for trespassing.
It was a nerve-racking mission, but one worth taking to shine a light on the sickening conditions in which pigs are being kept in Britain. Their findings were recorded in photographs which may be seen here.
Pig factories taking advantage of cheap labour and lax welfare laws are pushing British farmers to the wall
Tracy points out that much of the pressure to cut costs is driven from abroad. The fact is that bacon sold as British is often not British at all. Some 54% per cent of our pork is imported – mostly from pig factories in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands – and made in conditions that would be illegal here.
In Chile, she filmed the local people’s successful battle to close the world’s biggest pig farm, housing 2.5 million animals. These cheap imports from giant corporate animal factories undermine British farmers who, with higher welfare standards and smaller farms, cannot compete. Cutting corners in animal welfare becomes the only option to avoid bankruptcy. In the past 15 years Britain has lost half of our sow population, with many small and medium-size farms being forced to close.
Increasing human resistance to antibiotics
Animal factories also pose a serious risk to human health. Keeping animals in unnatural and unhygienic conditions promotes disease, so factory pigs are routinely given doses of antibiotics. Alarmed at increasing human resistance to antibiotics, doctors and hospitals are cutting back. But at the same time their use by factory farms is increasing. In the UK, 45% of antibiotics sold are to treat animals. In the US more than 80% of all antibiotics are used by agribusiness. This is fuelling the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and making some human diseases more difficult to treat.
Buy one and half sausages from a farm where they are raised humanely for the same cost as two sausages from a factory-farmed pig
Yet we can act. By using our power as consumers, we can choose pork that carries the RSPCA Assured label, is free range, outdoor bred or organic – and change the system. The power is in our purse. Two sausages from a factory-farmed pig costs the same as one and half sausages from a farm where they are raised humanely. Surely avoiding animal cruelty and saving antibiotics is worth half a sausage?
Like networker Colin Hines, she points out that the government could impose high tariffs on cheap imports to guarantee the British farmer a fair price, but it is reluctant to do so. That leaves it up to you and me, the consumers. Buying higher-welfare meat ensures the survival of our farmers.
Tracy Worcester ends: “I grew up in the countryside near farmers who loved their animals. I know that if it were economically viable, farms like the one I visited last week would prefer to treat their animals well . . . Each time we buy pork we vote for the system that produced it. Vote for pigs raised in this country on farms where they are allowed to roam and feel the sun on their backs, and where our farmers receive a fair price for good animal husbandry.
Read more about her campaign: http://farmsnotfactories.org/