Farming News - Tories join calls for method of production labelling

Tories join calls for method of production labelling

30 Sep 2016
Frontdesk / Livestock



The Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation (CAWF) - made up of animal loving members of the Conservative Party - is calling on the British Government to introduce method of production labelling for all meat and dairy products. 

Lorraine Platt, Co-founder of CAWF, will be meeting with Farming Minister George Eustice at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham this week to discuss the group’s goals, and how the formation of a new domestic farm policy in Britain presents an opportunity for ambitious change.

Ms Platt said, “Brexit offers an unprecedented opportunity to take back control of British food production and for more farmers to shift from volume to quality production.  The Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation is calling for mandatory method of production labelling of all meat and dairy products because this is the best way to level the playing field for higher welfare products and allow this important market to grow.  By providing consumers with accurate farm system labelling we can help safeguard the future of British farming.”

The calls from CAWF come after a group of Tory MPs petitioned the party leadership to ensure that, post-Brexit, public monies spent on farming go to funding public goods. The MPs’ calls coincide with growing pressure on the government to reinvent the agricultural support system, and move away from land-based payments.

Ahead of the party conference on Friday, CAWF noted that a market based primarily on volume production presents challenges for the farming industry - and that competing on price alone is forcing many farm businesses to close.  Instead, the Conservative group believes that Britain should expand the welfare quality market at home, and help build a robust brand based on these values. 

Earlier this month, vets’ organisations also petitioned the government to introduce method of production labelling, to push up animal welfare standards. CAWF, like the British Veterinary Association a fortnight ago, pointed out that welfare labelling is already mandatory for shell eggs (it has been so since 2004), and voluntary method of production labels for pig production were introduced in 2010. Like the BVA, CAWF wants to see method of production labelling expand to all animal products, though the group notes that it might be hard to establish for some products, like milk, which is commonly pooled.

On Friday, Ms Platt added, “Where method of production labelling exists, as it does for shell eggs and UK pork, it is popular with farmers and with consumers.  Labelling has meant that consumers can identify higher welfare products, allowing this higher value market to expand, and as a result many farmers have taken the chance to grow their businesses.  Farmers producing chicken, beef and dairy should have the same opportunities to grow their businesses.

“Labels drive demand, and add value.  They're the only real tool that we consumers have to communicate our preference for higher-welfare products to producers.  Labels empower us to drive standards more effectively and to reward farmers who invest in better farm animal welfare.”