EU sow stall ban ‘flouted’ by 17 states

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Only ten EU states out of 27 have so far complied with the ban on sow stalls which came in at the beginning of 2013, according to figures released by Brussels. Of the major producers of pig meat, France, Germany and Ireland are well short of the legal requirements, with Germany’s compliance at 73 per cent, France at 72 per cent and Ireland at 82 per cent.

Speaking for the UK, which unilaterally banned this method of pig production 13 years ago, UK farming minister Owen Paterson called for “vigorous action” against those who have failed to implement the legislation.

His remarks were addressed to Tonio Borg, the EU health and consumer policy commissioner who admitted that several countries were still falling short of full implementation.

“It is clear from the data that the non-compliant member states must now take strong and concerted actions to bring them into line with EU animal welfare legislation,” said Paterson

The Irish non-compliance puts them in a awkward corner as they hold the presidency of the EU until the end of June.

Last week NFU Scotland leaders carried out a “secret shopping” exercise which showed several of the major UK retailers buying pig meat from non-compliant countries and asked for proof that the companies were buying pig meat from legal sources.

The UK’s National Pig Association gave some idea of the volume of non-compliant pig meat being produced in the EU, claiming up to 40,000 pigs per hour were still being delivered to abattoirs from illegal sources.

Although not in the big league of pig meat production, bottom of the non-compliance league was Portugal where only 58 per cent of meat comes from farms without sow stalls.

Scottish MEP Alyn Smith said: “We’re a month past the deadline for the full implementation of this directive yet 17 of the other member states are not fully compliant. After such a long transition period, this is simply unacceptable.”