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Last Updated: Friday, 5 December, 2003, 17:32 GMT
Pig farmer cut from quality scheme
Pig
Footage showed pigs in poor health
One of Scotland's biggest pig farmers has been thrown out of a quality assurance scheme to prevent it bringing the meat industry into disrepute.

Quality Meat Scotland said its decision against Arthur Simmers of Scotpigs was based on animal welfare grounds.

At the same time, campaigners for animal protection gave BBC Scotland footage they said was filmed in the last week at three farms owned by Scotpigs, showing poor conditions.

The company said it sought to meet animal welfare standards and was now in discussions with Quality Meat Scotland.

However, Scottish Food Quality Certification said it was "wholly inaccurate" for the company to say it was negotiating for re-entry to the scheme.

Atrocious conditions

The animal welfare group Advocates for Animals secretly filmed at three pig farms near Aberdeen, Dundee and Ormiston in Midlothian.

All the farms are owned by Scotpigs, the industry's second biggest producer.

The group said they found atrocious conditions, with dead animals among live ones.

They said one of the farms was rat-infested, even though they had drawn attention to conditions there twice in the last two years.

Ross Minett, of Advocates for Animals, said: "What the investigators filmed is absolutely appalling. Completely unacceptable.

"Filthy, squalid, terrible conditions, animals suffering, sick animals, piles of dead animals, rat-infestation, fly infestations ... just absolutely atrocious conditions."

We are not prepared to let one rotten apple in the barrel take the reputation of the Scottish pig industry, which is one of the highest in the world, into any disrepute at all
Jim Walker
Quality Meat Scotland

He said someone has to take responsibility for the state of the farms.

The State Veterinary Service said it would investigate any allegations of animal welfare breaches and refer them to the procurator fiscal.

The service said it would be inappropriate to comment on any individual cases.

In a separate development, the industry body Quality Meat Scotland said it has just thrown Scotpigs out of its quality assurance scheme.

The company no longer has the accreditation demanded by meat processors and most retail outlets.

Jim Walker, chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, said: "We have thrown Scotpigs out of the scheme because for some time we have been investigating problems at some of the units under the control of Scotpigs."

Assurance scheme

He said that the units did not comply with high management systems of other pig farmers in Scotland.

"The three units that the films have allegedly been shot at in the last day or two have not been part of our assurance schemes for some time," he said.

"They were removed either in 2002 or earlier this year."

Scotpigs Limited continues to seek to meet the welfare standards appropriate for the animals in its care
Scotpigs statement
He said it was impossible for a company to trade and sell pigs in Scotland without being part of the assurance scheme.

"It is possible to sell pigs south of the border. There are still a few, and I stress a few, plants and abattoirs in England that are prepared to work with pigs from not-assured farms, but that is not possible in Scotland," he said.

"We are not prepared to let one rotten apple in the barrel take the reputation of the Scottish pig industry, which is one of the highest in the world, into any disrepute at all."

Scotpigs said it had not been given the chance to establish the factual basis behind the decision to revoke its licence.

"The basis relates to an operation that is not directly connected to Scotpigs Limited," it said.

"Scotpigs Limited continues to seek to meet the welfare standards appropriate for the animals in its care."


WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Scotland's Louise Batchelor
"The company hit back at the decision to revoke its licence"



SEE ALSO:
Farm loses meat industry backing
09 Apr 02  |  Scotland
Watchdog's beef over meat advert
06 Mar 02  |  Scotland
New vision for farming industry
26 Jun 01  |  Scotland


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