The NFU is still battling to get pig and poultry businesses exempted from tough EU environmental rules, which were originally aimed at heavy industries like power stations.

Last week, the NFU wrote to key commissioners and the Czech Presidency ahead of new discussions on the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive on 25 June.

Changes to the rules could see more small pig and poultry farms in the UK, as well as those with feed mills, become swept up in its scope. On top of that, existing IPPC farmers might be burdened with new red tape.

In letters to the Czech Presidency and commissioners Mariann Fischer Boel (agriculture) and Starvros Dimas (environment), the NFU reiterated concerns that the directive is not appropriate for agriculture.

It argued that farms are unlike other businesses affected by IPPC, many being one- or two-person operations with little manpower to manage the demands.

On top of this, “Farming in comparison to other industries poses a small risk to the environment and has limited capacity to reduce emissions.”

The NFU stressed that the latest draft would have a devastating impact on the pig sector. The NFU has estimated that a typical family farm, with 200 sows and their followers on-farm, would be included in the rules.

“In England, it would triple the number of pig farms, bringing an additional 600 under the rules.”

For existing pig and poultry producers, the NFU claim that the new draft would mean additional red tape with a need for new monitoring requirements, which may compromise animal welfare.

Back in March, the NFU with help from DEFRA farming and environment minster Jane Kennedy successfully persuaded MEPs to drop several other proposed changes including a reduction in the thresholds, which would have seen many free range units coming under the rules.