Plans for EU sow stall ban “in disarray”

PLANS FOR a partial ban on sow stalls from 1 January 2013 are in disarray. With 17 countries unlikely to be ready for the ban, pig production could fall and prices could go up “by at least 10%”.


Sow stalls have been banned in the UK since 1999 and the new law is intended to create a level playing field across Europe.


However, new figures obtained by Compassion in World Farming (CIWM) from the European Commission suggest British farmers will have to wait even longer than the 13 years they have waited so far.


Sweden, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Ireland, Germany, Estonia, Denmark, The Czech Republic and Bulgaria are expected to join the UK as compliant. The other 17 Member States are in varying stages of readiness, with Poland among the worst in terms of the number of farms (over 2,000) expected to be non-compliant with the law on January 1.


CIWM’s chief policy advisor Peter Stevenson, said the Commission needed to “get hold of the situation very quickly”, adding that it was “totally unacceptable” for so many countries to be behind schedule.


A report by BPEX suggests the lack of compliance could result in market disruptions. Senior analyst at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, Stephen Howarth, said the experience of the egg sector shows that it is “very likely” that the regulations will have a major impact on the EU pig meat market.


“The latest information confirms that there are many producers who still won’t have complied with the rules by the end of the year, while others will have stopped breeding altogether.


“Historically, even small changes in pig production have led to significant shifts in price. With production likely to fall by 5% or more, prices could be at least 10% higher, possibly more.”


British egg producers have invested £400m converting to ‘enriched cages’ to comply with the Welfare of Laying Hens Directive only for producers in 13 other countries to ignore the new laws.