EU hard line on sow stall ban

Fears that the supply of pork will tighten, as a result of the partial sow stall ban due to take effect across the EU next year, were heightened by news this week that the European Commission is taking a hard line to ensure compliance with the new legislation.

Speaking at a meeting of Members of the European Parliament and representatives of the British pig industry, Andrea Gavinelli, of the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers, revealed that the “Commission is using all tools available at EU level to push member states to comply with the legislation.”
He said the Commission was treating the matter as one affecting the very integrity of the EU itself and that it was “important to ensure that consumers are not cheated”.

The Commission has established that fewer than half of member states expect to be compliant by 1 January 2013. EU Commissioner John Dalli has written to the agriculture ministers in all member states, warning that infringement proceedings will be launched against any non-compliant country.

It was also revealed that UK Minister of State Jim Paice has held discussions with Commissioner Dalli on how best to ensure compliance. A spokesperson said the UK government would keep up pressure on the Commission to raise animal welfare standards throughout the EU “to meet the very high standards already implemented in the UK”.

Farming organisations across Europe are anticipating market disturbances in the pig sector as a result of the new welfare legislation. Pekka Pesonen, secretary-general of the two major umbrella organisations, representing more than 60 agriculture associations in the EU, predicted there would be higher costs, higher prices and higher prices paid to farmers. Any call to stabilise the market would be resisted: “Animal welfare comes at a cost,” he said. “It’s a moment of truth for the EU.”

He urged retailers, concerned about their corporate reputation and brand image, to agree contracts that would secure the guaranteed supply of pork and pork products when supplies inevitably tighten next year.