The pink clutches of piglets on Rob Mutimer’s outdoor pig farm in Norfolk will soon be repackaged as back bacon on Britain’s breakfast tables, but in the five months left to them before slaughter they do enjoy a pretty good life.
There is straw to snuffle in, a puddle to wallow in and open space in which to play — all of which explains why the products from Mr Mutimer’s Swannington Farm to Fork carry the “RSPCA Assured” mark of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
But with the end of the Brexit transition period less than six months away and US-UK trade talks already well under way, Mr Mutimer is worried. There is growing concern in the UK farming community, which has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, that it will not survive the coming onslaught of global competition.
At the heart of the problem for UK farmers is cost. US pork production costs are about half those of the UK due to intensive rearing methods such as sow stalls and growth-enhancing feed additives such as Ractopamine. These practices are banned under EU regulations, which the UK must abide by until the transition period ends in January 2021.
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