Stalls ban plea

PIG farmers called for action over new welfare standards agreed for across the Europe Union after travelling to Brussels this week.

A National Pig Association (NPA) delegation called on the European Commission to move swiftly and decisively where countries fail to comply with the January 2013 partial stalls ban.

Politicians including 13 MEPs and Farming Minister Jim Paice were invited to a British breakfast organised by the NPA.

NPA director Stewart Houston called on the European Parliament to hold the Commission to account for implementing the ban. He asked MEPs to ensure there is proper enforcement of the partial ban in member countries and called on the European Commission to launch “robust and rapid” infraction proceedings against non-compliant countries, as it has with the Welfare of Laying Hens Directive.

MEP Vicky Ford said: “The ban on battery cages, which failed to be implemented in so many countries, caused huge disruption in the egg industry as well as volatile prices for consumers. About two thirds of all English pigs come from East Anglia and we must not let pork producers suffer from the same chaos.

“It is no good for politicians to promise higher welfare standards and then stand back when other countries fail to implement new rules. The uncertainty hurts both the farmer and the consumer. We need to learn what happened with the egg industry and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“The good name of the European pig industry and European pork depends on the stalls directive being implemented fully, faithfully, and on time,” said Mr Houston.

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“Anything less will undermine the considerable investment being made by compliant producers and will also be letting down European consumers, most of whom are clear that they want all sows out of stalls — as they have been in the United Kingdom for thirteen years.”

Mr Houston stressed that all member countries owe it to their compliant producers to protect them from non-compliant neighbours in the same country with a lower cost base.