Anger at delay over sow stall ban
By FWi staff
UK farm leaders have criticised a decision to delay an EU ban on sow stalls until 2013.
The EU farm council agreed on the ban on Tuesday (19 June) as part of a welfare reform package.
The UK banned stalls and tethers in 1999. The UK minister Margaret Beckett, backed by the Dutch, wanted the EU ban brought forward to 2006.
But strong opposition to a ban from Spain and Portugal, backed by concerns about an early ban from the Danes, meant they were over-ruled.
The Ulster Farmers Union said it was bitterly disappointed the ban was not going to be applied sooner.
Pigs committee chairman Nial Jordan said: “Frankly after the last three disastrous years, most producers do not even know if they will still be involved with pig production by 2013.”
“In the interim, they must continue to endure the debilitating effects of vastly lower production costs in mainland Europe which undermine our competitiveness.”
National Pig Association regional manager Ian Campbell said: “We would very much have liked it to have been introduced much earlier.
“But we are pleased to see the move and you cannot underestimate its long-term impact.”
EU farm ministers also agreed and ban tethers from 2006.
And pigs must be provided with increased space and permanent access to rooting materials and fibre in new housing, from 2003.
The ban on stalls with have the biggest impact with about 65% of the EUs 13m breeding sows still kept in this form of housing.
Mrs Beckett also complained that the new regulation would still allow stalls to be used for up to four weeks after service.
A government official said: “The UK has operated these higher welfare standards since 1999 so the outcome was disappointing. 2013 is a long way off, though something is better than nothing.”
- EU to improve pig welfare – by 2012, FWi, 16 January, 2001
- Imports soar as UK tightens pig welfare, FWi, 12 November, 1999
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