The ban which is due to come into effect across member states on 1 January 2013 forms part of the higher welfare directive and will see the end of individual stalls for pregnant sows and gilts during a period starting from four weeks after service to one week before the expected time of farrowing.
It is anticipated that many producers across the EU will not be ready for the ban and will not have converted their production systems to comply with the legislation. Member countries have been asked to supply the European Commission with an action plan to outline their level of compliance.
The National Pig Association (NPA), the organisation which represents British farmers, is calling on MEPS to ensure that the directive is enforced, and that the EU deploys “rapid and robust” proceedings against countries who fail to meet the necessary requirements.
NPA chairman Stewart Houston, who will address MEPs in Brussels this week, has called for a transparent system to handle infringements of the ban. He has also called for the European Commission to make public each member state’s action plan, which outlines the level of compliance within the country by January 2013, and the action member states intend to take over producers that are not fully compliant. He will argue that countries owe it to their compliant producers to make sure that they are protected from those who do not comply with the legislation, who may be operating at a lower-cost base.
Houston said: “The good name of the European pig industry and European pork depends on the stalls directive being implemented fully, faithfully and on time.
“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 UK for 13 years.”
The NPA will brief Commission officials, representatives of member states, retailers and animal rights groups and representatives of the European farmers union Copa-Cogeca on the partial stall ban.