22 June 2001

Stall & tether ban in 2013

STALLS and tethers are to be banned from all EU sow houses, but not until Jan 1, 2013, farm ministers decided this week.

The move endorses a commission plan, which also increases the space in which pigs must be reared and requires permanent access to rooting materials and fibre food. New housing will have to be built to these standards from 2003.

"Consumers expect proper care of animals, and policy makers and farmers must respond to that," said food safety commissioner, David Byrne, following the decision at the Luxembourg council.

The decision was also a victory for Swedish farm minister, Margareta Winberg, who has made animal welfare a priority of her presidency.

It came despite opposition from Mediterranean countries, such as Spain and Portugal, which said the new housing was not suitable for their climatic conditions.

But concerns expressed by UK and Dutch delegations that 2013 was too far off were also ignored. They wanted it brought forward to 2006. UK minister, Margaret Beckett, also complained that the new regulation would still allow the use of stalls for up to four weeks after service.

"The UK has operated to higher welfare standards since 1991," said a government official. "2013 is a long way off, though something is better than nothing." &#42