The EU Commission announced that only 13 Member States had reported full compliance with the new EU pig welfare regulations, and ‘infringement’ procedures were currently being progressed against nine Member States, including Denmark. Recent research carried out by the Danish Pig Research Centre confirmed that the Danish pig industry was now 2013-compliant.New data published by the EU Commission indicates that 13 Member States had reported full compliance with the new EU pig welfare regulations, banning the use of sow stalls for pregnant sows: Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
This prompted a press release from the National Pig Association referring to the risk that pig meat from “medieval” production systems may be entering the UK market. However, they also expressed confidence that their 'Wall of Shame' campaign earlier this year would keep the flow of ‘illegally produced’ pig meat into the UK market in check.
The Commission report also referred to the fact that they had initiated ‘infringement’ procedures against nine Member States earlier in the year: Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Poland and Portugal.
In Denmark’s case, the information currently held by the EU Commission is based on research undertaken during November 2012, when 6% of farmers interviewed said they may not have completed the necessary adaptation of their facilities in order to meet the 1st January deadline.
It is anticipated that the Danish government will give an updated report to the EU Commission when they have completed their own programme of 'unannounced' visits to sow producers throughout Denmark. It is expected that this work will be completed in the near future.
All the evidence from the Danish assurance schemes and other sources indicate that Denmark is now fully compliant with the new EU regulations.
Since 1st January 2013, the Danish Pig Research Centre has been in contact with all 2,374 sow producers in Denmark, specifically to ensure their compliance with the requirement for the loose housing of pregnant sows.
Under the current DANISH certification procedures, compliance with all the scheme standards is independently audited, including legislative requirements and, in particular, the loose-housing of pregnant sows. If any non-compliance is recorded, a follow-up audit is conducted six weeks after the first audit. If the herd is not approved during the second audit, it will lose its DANISH certification.
In order to obtain a full overview of the situation, in June 2013, the Danish Pig Research Centre sent out an affidavit to all sow producers, who had not received a formal DANISH audit during 2013. A signature was required to confirm that every producer was in compliance with all the requirements of the new pig welfare regulations.
Two herds have lost their DANISH certification because they failed to demonstrate compliance with the rules. In addition, a small handful of producers have yet to make a final reply. These producers had demonstrated full diligence in their efforts to be ready on time and were well underway with the necessary conversion work. Delays had occurred because of the slowness of the local authorities in completing environmental approvals, which took on average 43 months. All necessary work will be completed shortly. In these special circumstances, these farmers have been allowed to retain their DANISH certification.
”I’m proud of the fact that we are able to document that Denmark is 2013 compliant. But we should not forget that there are some pig producers who have been forced to stop prematurely and that this has resulted in a decline in sow numbers,” said Nicolaj Nørgaard, Director of the Danish Pig Research Centre.
“We would welcome a rigorous approach to enforcement by the EU authorities. Official reports from many Member States suggest full compliance with the new rules but this does not tally with other information from the grass roots of the industry. There is, for example, still some way to go in Germany. The final chapter is far from written and, for the benefit of a level playing field across Europe, the matter must be concluded as soon as possible,” added Nicolaj Nørgaard.