Today Tonight is probably one of my least favourite shows, but I’ll be watching it tonight at 6.30. I understand that they are planing to screen a story tonight on conditions in a piggery in South Australia. While I imagine the conditions there are similar to what the vast majority of mother pigs endure in factory farms around Australia, this particular piggery apparently is part owned by Amanda Vanstone.
This will no doubt provide the opportunity for inevitable comparisons with detention centres for animals.
The Code of Practice for the welfare of pigs is currently being reviewed. The draft of the new Code of Practice will allow conditions such as will be shown on Today Tonight to continue virtually unchanged. More details about that, including suggested actions you could take, can be found by clicking on this link or this link.
I have seen some details of what the conditions are like for breeding sows in the piggery, which include some very strong assertions that the current Code of Practice relating to cruelty to pigs has been breached. Again, this is actually not unusual in Australia, but if it takes the fact that a government Minister is investing in one of them to make it newsworthy, so be it.
As with many other factory farmed animals, what pigs endure is simply abominable. There is an almost total lack of interest at the national level of politics for adequate and properly enforced animal welfare standards, which is why people in the community who are concerned about the what is really happening behind the veneer of reassuring spin and PR campaigns have no option but to keep using direct action to bring the confronting reality direct to the public.
State governments have the power to ensure proper and enforceable standards. I hope reports like this will make them act, but they certainly won’t without community pressure.
UPDATE: This report on the ABC website includes a response by the company running the piggery. Just in case you were still under the delusion that Codes of Practice governing the welfare of pigs and other animals have any weight, the reported comments of the Australian Pork Farms Group should clear up any misapprehension:
The piggery, which is run by Australian Pork Farms Group, says some of its stalls are 10 centimetres shorter than the size suggested by the Commonwealth code of practice.
But the company says all the equipment met the standards in place at the time of its installation and the minimum size is only a suggestion.
The chief executive of the Australian Pork Farms Group, Rod Hammann, says the guidelines constantly change and no piggery could afford to keep upgrading its equipment every time the code was updated.