From today up to 40 per cent of European Union pigs will come from farms that are flouting animal welfare rules. To avoid this trade in illegally-farmed pigs, British shoppers should look for the British independent Red Tractor logo, says Britain’s National Pig Association (NPA).
According to NPA calculations, around 40,000 pigs an hour will be delivered to continental processing plants from farms that are breaking welfare rules. The pigs will come from continental farms where sows are confined in individual metal cages known as ‘stalls’, which is outlawed by European Union animal welfare legislation from January 1 2013.
Prompted by NPA, the European Commission health and consumer department has called European Union member countries to a meeting on January 28 to discuss the crisis. And in Britain, farm minister David Heath has scheduled a meeting for February 6 to assess the level of civil disobedience taking place on continental pig farms.
Stalls have not been used in the United Kingdom for many years but figures released by Brussels this month show that 80 per cent of European Union countries have not yet complied with the ban.
The data shows France was only 33 per cent compliant with the European stalls ban, Germany only 48 per cent and Ireland only 57 per cent. Other countries unlikely to hit the deadline include Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.
At its meeting this month, the European Commission is expected to claim the picture is not as bleak as the statistics suggest, because from January member countries will be able to start taking enforcement action.
NPA says some European countries will strictly enforce the stalls ban but others simply don’t have the necessary infrastructure to identify law-breaking farms, so Europe is going to have a significant law-breaking problem for some time to come.
“We have been pressuring Brussels for more than a year to take measures to protect European consumers from illegally produced pigmeat. Its stock response has always been that it could do nothing until January 1, 2013. Well that date is now upon us and it needs to act urgently to have any chance of keeping its integrity intact,” said NPA chairman Richard Longthorp.