Westminster: It was a proud day in London. The culmination of three years work with a government-backed organisation in China to bring higher welfare practices to the nation that is home to half the world’s pigs.
In the shadow of Westminster Abbey, 26 delegates from across China gathered with European experts to discuss China and EU collaboration on pig welfare. The seminar was hosted by Compassion’s ground-breaking Food Business team which has spent weeks in China recently preparing the way for this first and major step forward.
Our distinguished guests were led by Ms Xi Chunling, founder and executive president of the China government-backed International Cooperation Committee on Animal Welfare (ICCAW). Ms Xi was accompanied by deputy director, Mr Wan. It was also a great privilege to welcome Mr Zhou, the vice president of the China Association for the Promotion of International Agricultural Cooperation (CAPIAC), an influential body who support the joint ICCAW/Compassion project.
So what is it we’re trying to do? Well, put simply, we are working with the authorities in Beijing to encourage the adoption of higher welfare practices for pig farming. What a proud moment then to recognise the first group of pioneering farmers there with our prestigious Good Pig Production Award! All the recipients have pledged to make a real difference to the welfare of their pigs by using higher welfare alternatives to confinement systems like sow stalls and farrowing crates where the pigs can’t turn around.
Yes, this is a small beginning in a very big country. But it has all the right backing. And it fills me with great encouragement. When I first met Ms Xi in Beijing three years ago, I had been travelling the country researching for my book. I’d seen some pretty awful things there for both animals and people. I vowed to return to do something about it. Here in 2014, we are seeing the beginnings of what I hope will be a new age for animal welfare in China.
Huge thanks to our delegates who travelled so far to be with us; to our expert speakers from industry and academia; and to my dedicated staff team who made the event happen.
Particular thanks to Compassion’s man on the ground in Beijing, Jeff Zhou, and to Dr Tracey Jones, Caroline Saunders, Phil Brooke and Dr Angela Wright, the people at Compassion who have driven this exciting new project.
And, of course, thank you and congratulations to the people making change happen in China; you richly deserve your awards.