British pig producers have called on members of the European Parliament to hold the European Commission to account over the implementation of the partial stall ban that takes effect across the whole region on January 1, 2013.
Producers are also calling for “robust and rapid” action against non-compliant countries. A March 19 stakeholder summit, organized by the UK’s National Pig Association and supported by the British Pig Executive, was held to brief European Commission officials, as well as representatives from the European farmers’ union, Copa Cogeca and animal welfare groups, on the current state of the pig industry in the EU.
Stewart Houston, of the National Pig Association, urged the Commission to resist any calls by member states for a derogation and called on the whole industry to work together to enforce the ban and “protect the reputation and credibility of the EU pig industry."
The association won immediate support from several EU countries, including The Netherlands and Denmark, as well as Copa Cogeca. “This is the moment of truth when consumers, retailers, processors and so forth will realize that they have to contribute towards animal welfare," said Copa Cogeca's secretary general Pekka Pesonen to Pig International. “The European Commission cannot afford to compromise now, even if this ban causes market disturbances. If it did, all the talk about animal welfare would be seen as empty words. Everybody has to stick to the rules.”
Pesonen said it is important to get the major retailers and supermarket groups, as well as pig producers, “on side” to ensure the ban succeeds.
Several members of the European Parliament, including Vicky Ford (East of England) and George Lyon (Scotland), promised their support and urged their fellow members to make sure the Commission did the right thing.
Another meeting is planned in Brussels in the autumn of 2012 to check on the progress producers in all the EU member states are making towards converting to new systems to meet the 2013 legislation.