Paice issues warning over EU sow stall ban
FARMING Minister Jim Paice has warned that the current furore over the EU battery cage ban could be dwarfed by an even bigger crisis when sow stalls are banned in 2013.
Sow stalls were banned in the UK since 1999 but have remained legal and in widespread use elsewhere in the EU.
They will finally be outlawed across the EU in 2013 but the British Pig Industry Executive (BPEX) has warned that some member states, including Denmark, Holland and Germany, the three biggest exporters of pigmeat to the UK, are unlikely to be fully compliant by that date. The Danish Pig Producers Association has reported lately, for example, that nearly one third of producers will not be able to comply.
During Defra questions in the Commons, Conservative MP Pauline Latham called for early intervention from UK Ministers to avert a repeat of the battery cage ban crisis.
Mr Paice said Ministers first told the Commission over a year ago that it was obvious that a number of countries would not be able to comply in time with the battery cage ban.
“She is absolutely correct that this is a precursor to an even bigger welfare issue: the ban on sow stalls, which comes in on 1 January 2013. If we do not get it right this time, it does not bode very well for 2013,” he said.
National Pig Association general manager Zoë Davies said the NPA would continue to work with retailers, processors and the food service to ensure that only legal pork is sourced and sold in the UK from January 1 2013.
“Our pig farmers have waited 14 years for the rest of the EU to catch up with UK legislation, as stalls were banned here in 1999 in a move which cost us half our sow herd. Even then this will only be a partial ban as sows will be able to be kept within stalls for a quarter of their pregnancy.
“We are clear that there must be no derogation and will be fighting hard in Brussels to push the Commission to develop a workable solution for dealing with illegal EU pork”.
With many EU producers likely to be forced out of business by the ban, BPEX has estimated EU pig supplies will fall and prices will rise.