Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about farrowing crates for sows.
I am committed to ending the ‘cage age’ of outdated farming practices that cause animals distress and restrict natural behaviours. I back our British farmers and want to see meaningful support for farmers moving to higher welfare standards.
In 1999, the then Labour Government banned cruel sow stalls that kept pigs caged for the entirety of their pregnancies. However, it is still permitted for female pigs to be kept in restrictive farrowing crates before they give birth and until their piglets are weaned. I believe this must change.
I support introducing a ban on sow farrowing crates with a reasonable phase-out period and replacing these with safe, free-farrowing systems.
In February 2020, the Opposition voted to include in the Agriculture Bill a phased ban of farrowing stalls, and for financial support to be made available to farmers with the capital costs of this process and for those who take interim measures to improve the conditions of farrowing sows. Disappointingly, this was voted down by Government MPs.
I support the Pig Husbandry (Farrowing) Bill by Sir David Amess MP, which would require the phasing out of farrowing crates for pigs by 2027 and would prohibit the installation of new crates across England.
The Bill was presented to Parliament today (10 March 2021). I can assure you that I will follow developments on this closely and will continue to press for the UK to lead the world with high animal welfare standards.