Farming: Pig farmers disappointed in EU figures

UK pig farmers have met EU figures with disappointment. Picture: Getty
UK pig farmers have met EU figures with disappointment. Picture: Getty
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PIG producers from the United Kingdom were less than happy to learn from European Commission officials yesterday that fewer than half the member states will be able to comply with the ban on sow stalls than comes into place in January 2013

Speaking on his return from Brussels, Stewart Houston, director of the National Pig Association, said it was very disappointing but it was also what they had expected to have confirmed.

The figures provided by the Commission were that 12 member states, including the UK, Sweden and Luxembourg who are already compliant, would meet the legislation by the end of this year.

Another seven member states expect to be 90 per cent compliant with the regulations which have been on the cards since 1999 in order to give pig farmers time to convert to other more animal welfare friendly production systems.

Five member states will be between 60 and 90 per cent compliant by the end of the year and three have only a small percentage of their pig production units up to legislative scratch.

Houston said he was fairly sure that all the big pigmeat producing countries, such as Germany, Denmark, and Ireland, were likely to either meet the required standards or be within a few percentage points of doing so.

However, he and his colleagues wanted to see the Commission taking robust action to prevent pig meat from non-compliant sources getting on to the market.

One such proposal would see the Commission identifying pig units that do not comply with the stalls ban and ensure they stop inseminating their sows by July. He was pleased the Commission indicated it would be talking to vets to see if such a ban could be implemented.

A proposal put forward by George Lyon MEP would see a joint parliamentary declaration calling on member states to take urgent action to ensure their pig producers were compliant with the ban.

He believed that would ensure that the market was not flooded with illegal pork products in what he called “re-run of the fiasco over the introduction of welfare standards for caged hens”.

He said: “The tough action that the Commission eventually undertook on hens is now paying off as member states have woken up to the fact there will be no get out of jail card, no extra time and no escaping large fines for failing to comply.”

Lyon said he would also issue an invitation to all major European retailers to attend a summit in Brussels.

There the agenda would be what action they would intend to take to guarantee their customers that they would only sell pork products that had been legally produced from the beginning of 2013.

The MEPs would seek guarantees that the retailers would boycott all pork products produced illegally, he said.

NFU Scotland pig convenor, Philip Sleigh said he was looking forward to hearing how the EU intended to deal with countries which were not compliant with the legislation, especially, how they would deal with those member states who had not got their houses in order after 31 December 2012.

Mobile safety plan for farms

With fewer people working on farms, the problem of lone workers being involved in accidents increases. Figures from the Health and Safety Executive for 2010-11 show almost 1,000 incidents throughout the UK involved people working on their own on farms.

Dunoon-based Tom Morton has produced a conversion kit for mobile phones which includes a panic button for workers operating on their own.

The MobiCare is already used extensively by the police and Morton believes that those working in agriculture would also benefit from his invention.

“Nowadays, it is not just accidents that can occur. With rising levels of rural thefts, farmers and their workers could easily find themselves in a confrontational situation,” he said.

Where such problems occur, pressing the panic button will send a signal to a centre operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. From there an appropriate response service is activated.

He accepted that those working in rural areas did not get complete mobile phone coverage but said there were ways around such “black holes”.

Morton has just secured a contract with Co-operative farms who have just invested in 80 of the units for their workforce.


STIRLING – Caledonian Marts had forward 2,642 prime hoggets and 440 cast ewes and tups. SQQ hoggets (1,992) sold to average 213.93p. Prime hoggets averaged 208.6p. (+8.02p on the week), selling to 262p or £110.20. Export ewes (130) averaged £70.60 (+£15.03) selling to £88.50. Heavy ewes (298) averaged £101.59 (+£14.05) selling to £148.50. Tups (12) averaged £105.17 (+£27.52) selling to £149.50.

AYR – Craig Wilson Ltd had forward 41 prime cattle. Beef bullocks (13) averaged 197.9p or £1,243.98 and sold to 216p or £1,369.60. Beef heifers (22) averaged 198.9p or £1,037.85 and sold to 215p or to £1,255.45. Black and white bullocks (three) averaged 155p or £901.47. Young bulls (two) averaged 155p or £1,097.30 selling to 171.5p or £1,440.60. The firm also sold 11 Dairy cattle 18 calves and 58 stirks. Friesian calved heifers sold to £2,300. Bull calves sold to £360, aged bulls calves sold to £405, aged heifer calves to £400. Stirks: bulls sold to £670, bullocks to £820, heifers to £750. Also sold were 189 cast cows and bulls. Bulls (12) averaged 136.8p and sold to £1,740 or 169.8p. Beef cows (49) averaged 146.3p and sold to £1,400 or 192.4p. Dairy cows (126) averaged 123.5p and sold to £1,260 or 145p. Clean cattle sold to to £1,240 or 171p. The firm also sold 2308 sheep compromising 1,850 prime hoggets and 458 cast ewes and rams. Prime hoggets sold to 242.2p and £110 and averaged 200.6p (+3.9p on the week). Cast ewes and tups averaged £81.95 (+£9.89 on the week) selling to £154.

LANARK – Lawrie & Symington Ltd sold 58 prime cattle, 71 cast cows and 3,350 prime and cast sheep. Prime cattle sold to 240p, butchers cattle averaged 216.7p. Cast cows – beef cows (30) averaged 144p and sold to 164p or to £1,205. Dairy cows (23) averaged 122p and sold to 150p or to £1,075. OTM (16) averaged 154p and sold to 181p or to £1,215. Bulls (two) averaged 130p and sold to 131p or to £1,115.