16 January 2001
EU to improve pig welfare – by 2012

By FWi staff

BRUSSELS has proposed a stall-and-tether ban as part of recommendations to improve pig welfare – but could take 11 years to introduce them.

British pig farmers claim they have been at a competitive disadvantage to Continental producers since a unilateral UK stall-and-tether ban was introduced in 1999.

But their joy at the plans for an EU-wide ban will be tempered by the admission from the European Commission that rules will not fully come into force until 2012.

The proposals for a Council Directive also include an obligatory minimum size of sow pens, allowing at least for turning round, for the EUs 125 million pigs.

And plans are put forward for the provision of rooting materials, separate non-slatted lying areas and training requirements for pig handlers.

Health and consumer protection commissioner David Byrne said: “The intensification of pig farming over the past 10 years has led to practices which caused unnecessary suffering and are also increasingly counter-productive.

“Once these new measures are in place, I believe the pig industry will have a chance to improve its public image.

“Animal welfare issues are integral to the future of EU farming policy.”

The commission said the rules would be introduced gradually over 11 years to allow industry time to adjust to building for higher standards.

However, some key provisions will apply to new holdings from 01 January, 2002.

Farmers are eligible for financial assistance for building and technical installations to improve animal welfare.

The EC proposals will be presented to the European Parliament for consultation before European agriculture ministers make a final decision later in the year.