The priority the Scottish red meat industry places on animal welfare is being highlighted by the establishment of a formal partnership between Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and the Scottish SPCA, Scotland’s leading animal welfare charity.
QMS and the Scottish SPCA have a long history of working closely together with the aim of promoting and encouraging a high level of animal welfare in the Scottish livestock industry. Animal welfare is an important aspect of QMS’s quality assurance schemes and something which continues to be of increasing importance to consumers.
The aim of the new partnership is to take the existing much-valued working relationship between the two organisations to a new level. It will build on the existing collaboration and trust between the organisations, to the benefit of the Scottish red meat industry and the cattle, sheep and pigs reared on Scottish farms.
The Scottish SPCA has been working alongside the Scottish farming industry since its formation, more than 175 years ago. The charity provides expert advice to QMS on livestock welfare and the two organisations work together on a basis of transparency and integrity.
The partnership also embraces the importance of animal welfare to the long-term growth of red meat production in Scotland and consumers’ growing expectations of high standards of animal welfare.
QMS’s commitment to animal welfare in the production of beef, lamb and pork in Scotland is highlighted in its “Animal Welfare and Wellbeing Charter” which clearly articulates the priority placed on animal welfare and wellbeing by QMS and others working in the Scottish red meat industry.
The charter highlights the complementary relationship between “animal welfare” (relating to the physical needs of animals) and “animal wellbeing” (relating to the emotional state of animals and their quality of life). It contains a number of key guiding principles including: the encouragement of good animal welfare practices and collaboration between QMS and the statutory agencies responsible for animal welfare, avoiding any conflict of interest.
The charter identifies the “Five Freedoms” as the minimum standard of animal welfare. These are: freedom from hunger and malnutrition; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury or disease; freedom to express normal behaviour; and freedom from fear and distress.
The partnership will advise and inform the QMS Board on matters of animal welfare and wellbeing through the committees which set the standards for QMS’s Quality Assurance Schemes and other channels. The QMS board may also consult the Partnership on matters relating to animal welfare and wellbeing.
Jim McLaren, Chairman of QMS, welcomed the establishment of the partnership as a very clear indication of the priority placed in high standards of welfare in Scotland.
“This partnership reflects Quality Meat Scotland’s on-going commitment to animal welfare in the wide-ranging work we undertake.
“It also reflects the value QMS places on the work undertaken by the Scottish SPCA which has a very long history of working closely with the Scottish farming industry.
“The Scottish SPCA has a keen awareness of the practicalities of grassroots Scottish livestock farming and understanding of how each link in the Scottish red meat chain operates has earned the trust and respect of those working in our industry.”
A key aspect of the integrity which exists in the way the Scottish SPCA engages with QMS and the wider red meat industry is the fact there is no commercial arrangement – ie the Scottish SPCA receives no monetary payment for services.
Scottish SPCA Chief Executive Stuart Earley welcomed the partnership. "I am also extremely pleased about the development of our relationship with the farming community.
“Many of our officers have come from the farming community and, like farmers, we are practical when it comes to animals. We want to work with farmers to improve animal welfare, which in turn should help their businesses operate more efficiently.
“We are here to work with the farming community and while we will always champion animal welfare, we will also champion Scottish farmers and provide support, guidance and any other assistance we can. If the Scottish farmer is successful through improved animal welfare, everyone benefits and the Scottish SPCA is here to help.”