Fears new EU pig rules will lead to price rises

New pig welfare rules will force significant numbers of pig producers across Europe to quit causing severe market disruption, the British Pig Executive has warned.

BPEX – the English levy body – said the animal welfare regulations which implement a partial ban on the use of sow stalls, come into effect on 1 January 2013.

The UK already exceeds the requirements but only 14 of the other 27 member states will be fully compliant when the Directive takes effect, said a BPEX spokesman. 

The commission has made it clear that it expects the new rules to be rigorously enforced and will initiate infraction proceedings against countries which do not comply.

In a report, published on 13 April, BPEX shows that pig production in the EU is likely to fall by between 5% and 10% with producers expected to quit rather than investing to meet the rules.

This will cause severe market disruption with a shortfall in supply and substantial price rises of about 10%, the report says.

BPEX chairman Stewart Houston said: “Getting this right will demonstrate the integrity of the EU Commission and member states in enforcing legislation that they have agreed. It will demonstrate the integrity of the whole supply chain that it will protect pig welfare and above all that it will benefit consumers through the continued supply of high welfare, high quality pork and pork products.”

Similar animal welfare legislation, banning the use of un-enriched cages in the laying hen industry, has caused serious disruption to the egg industry since its introduction on 1 January this year.

These rules have caused a 75% price rise in shell eggs compared with a year ago.

Mr Houston added: “We can all learn from the recent experience of the egg industry. The UK pork and pork products market is worth £5bn annually and it is imperative the whole of the supply chain works together if we are to avoid the worst impacts of market disruption. Such co-operation is also in the long-term interest of the industry and consumers alike.”

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Member states not ready for EU stall ban