Pig farmers are up in arms over a television programme scheduled to be shown by Channel 4 next week which shows animal activists committing criminal acts on farms.
The programme, How to Steal Pigs and Influence People, is billed as a documentary which follows a “community of vegan and ex-vegan influencers” who go on “farmyard heists” or are devoted to “back-bedroom chicken sanctuaries”.
The National Pig Association (NFA) has written to Channel 4 expressing concern that the programme could be “televising and potentially glamorising acts of criminality, such as the theft of pigs, burglary and the movement of pigs without the necessary licence”.
NPA policy services officer Lizzie Wilson branded the programme a “disgrace” and warned it could encourage others to follow suit.
She said: “This is an extremely irresponsible programme that appears to be promoting and glamorising criminal activity. Our members have already suffered enough from the actions of activists that can bring despair to farming families who have done nothing wrong, while also posing health and welfare risks to the pigs – this feels like a further kick in the teeth.”
The production company, Dragonfly, confirmed the programme included “incidents in which vegan activists commit illegal acts”.
However the company’s head of legal, Tom Calvert, claimed the acts are “not glamorised, encouraged or condoned in any way”.
“We believe that the programme gives a fair and balanced view of the ‘Meat the Victims’ event from both sides, as well as presenting a fair reflection of vegan activism in the UK,” he said.
Vehicle manufacturer Mitsubishi is also in the NPA’s firing line because of the brand’s association with the programme, as part of a sponsorship deal with Channel 4.
Ms Wilson said: “Mitsubishi has customers across the farming industry and we are appealing to it to show some solidarity with the industry and use what leverage it has with Channel 4 to stop the programme being aired.
“We are also asking members to contact their local dealerships directly to make their feelings known. There is a real risk that the company’s reputation will be badly damaged by this.”
In a statement Mitsubishi said it was investigating the issue, adding its sponsorship package with Channel 4 covered hundreds of documentaries.
The programme comes hard on the heels of another attack on agriculture by Channel 4. Last week the documentary Apocalpyse Cow claimed farming had to end to save the planet.