sows

Pig sector leaders are calling for legal action against countries that fail to comply with a European Union ban on sow stalls.

The National Pig Association said it wanted “swift and decisive action” against member states that miss a deadline to impose the ban.

It follows fears that British pig producers are next in line to be unfairly penalised by the willingness of other countries to flout animal welfare rules.

Sow stalls will be banned across the European Union from January 2013 – except for the first four weeks of gestation.

Sow stalls are already illegal in the UK, Sweden and Luxembourg. Yet many other countries show little sign of abandoning them.

Only 12 out of 27 EU member states are on course to meet the 2013 ban, Farmers Weekly has learned.An NPA delegation will raise the issue in Brussels during a British breakfast for MEPs and European policy-makers.

NPA director Stewart Houston will call on the European Parliament to hold the commission to account for implementing the ban.

“The good name of the European pig industry and European pork depends on the stalls directive being implemented fully, faithfully, and on time,”
Stewart Houston, NPA director

In addition, he will ask MEPs to ensure proper enforcement of the partial ban in member countries.

He will also call on the commission to launch “robust and rapid” infraction proceedings against non-compliant countries.

Mr Houston said the commission should be more transparent in the way it proposes to handle non-compliance with the partial stalls ban.

The commission has asked all member countries to supply an action plan outlining their likely level of compliance by January 2013.

It has also asked for the actions they propose against non-compliant producers.

Mr Houston said the commission should share the information contained in these action plans and explain what actions it was prepared to take.

“The good name of the European pig industry and European pork depends on the stalls directive being implemented fully, faithfully, and on time,” he said.

“Anything less will undermine the considerable investment being made by compliant producers and will also be letting down European consumers, most of whom are clear that they want all sows out of stalls — as they have been in the United Kingdom for thirteen years.”

The NPA breakfast is being organised by the NFU Brussels office.

Guests are expected to include MEP Vicky Ford and Andrea Gavinelli of the Brussels health and consumer department.