Sir: It is disappointing that a closer look at the RSPCA’s McNair report on Freedom Foods (mentioned in Saturday Essay, 1 January) seems to recommend welfare outcome measures only as an ‘extra’ to yet more prescriptive input standards.
It is almost universally acknowledged in farming that a poorly designed but well-managed system will deliver better welfare than all the welfare features in the world under a poor manager. So if the RSPCA was truly innovative, it would embrace a fundamental shift to health and behaviour outcome-based measures that support the Five Freedoms, and in doing so, eliminate the current ridiculous prejudice against some modern production systems
An awful lot is being asked of British farmers at the moment – environmentally, socially, economically and ethically – and the most innovative are finding ever-more creative ways to deliver against all these imperatives. But nothing is more guaranteed to stifle innovation than prescription. I only ask: is the RSPCA is brave enough to put the animal back at the centre of the debate and step away from the tin-rattling welfare charities who would see the world farmed only under the narrow range of systems they sanction?
Amy Jackson, Oxtale PR