New rules apply...
The new EU pig welfare regulations finally came into force on New Year’s Day. The British pig industry has already made strenuous efforts to alert the UK market to the risks that there would be significant levels of ‘non-compliance’ across the EU and BPEX launched a new advertising campaign encouraging consumers to look for Red Tractor pork and bacon.
The National Pig Association (NPA) issued a series of press releases during December, suggesting that up to 40% of pigs arriving at EU slaughterhouses will have been raised in systems using sow stalls, whose use for pregnant sows will be banned from 1st January, apart from the first four weeks after service. This equates to around “40,000 pigs per hour”.
These estimates were based on figures published by the EU Commission during November, which showed that many important suppliers to the UK market - Spain, Italy, Holland, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and France – had compliance levels of 70% or below. The figure for Denmark was given at 85% but this figure did not allow for the inevitability that a significant number of smaller producers would leave the industry, while others were still in the process of adapting their production to the new rules.
The NPA release received a fair amount of coverage in the national and local press:
Despite the NPA estimates, it can reasonably be argued that, although the EU regulation came into force from 1st January, the EU marketplace is still in transition to the new rules. Although any producer still confining sows throughout pregnancy will be in breach of the new regulations from 1st January, finished pigs, where the sow was kept in confinement prior to the deadline, will not have been produced in an ‘illegal’ system as such.
The new rules will start applying to pigs born after 1st January, which, in the majority of cases, will not be slaughtered much before mid-2013. It will only then be possible to talk about pig meat from ‘illegal’ systems arriving on the EU market place.
This point was taken up in a blog published in the The Whole Hog and it was suggested that sorting out ‘illegal’ pig meat arriving on the EU market during 2013 would even present a challenge to Hercule Poirot.
BPEX has just launched a new campaign ‘Give a fork about your pork’ on Channel 4 urging consumers to look out for the Red Tractor mark, when choosing their pork, bacon and sausages. The campaign is being fronted by farmer and TV presenter Jimmy Doherty.