Four questions for MPs about welfare of pigs...

UK - MPs are being briefed by NPA on the new welfare rules, which will increase producers' costs by around two percent. The NPA poses four crucial questions for MPs to consider...
calendar icon 3 February 2003
clock icon 4 minute read
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NPA is active on members' behalf in Brussels & White-hall, and with pro-cessors, supermarkets & caterers – fighting for the growth and pros-perity of the UK pig industry.

What evidence does the government have that these new welfare measures will be fully implemented in all other member states? Do these measures mean that third country imports have to reach these welfare standards? Does this still mean that UK producers will be trading at a competitive disadvantage? What is the government doing to encourage the trade of Britain's high welfare pigmeat at home and abroad to ensure the sustainability of the industry? In its briefing to MPs, NPA says it applauds the principle of minimum welfare standards for the protection of pigs.

"However, we very much doubt whether these minimum standards will be applied evenly across the EU. Are Ministers confident that this new legislation will be fully implemented in other member states? Our feedback does not confirm this. We also believe that effective enforcement will not take place throughout the EU."

NPA policy manager Ann Petersson says, "Even if these measures are implemented fully in other member states, our pig producers will still be at a competitive disadvantage.

"UK unilateral legislation banned stalls in January 1999, but the EU stalls ban will not be implemented by most continental producers for another ten years and will apply only from four weeks after service until one week before farrowing.

"This means that, in the rest of the EU, sows can legally be kept in stalls for 25% of the gestation period. Nor will this new EU requirement apply to holdings with fewer than ten sows."

NPA says even with efficient enforcement, the new welfare legislation will go only some of the way towards a level playing field. "We will have had fourteen years of trading at a disadvantage to other member states - and this competitive disadvantage will remain"

UK producers are proud of their high welfare standards but these bring significant extra costs. The number of UK sows has contracted by 40 percent as a result of competition from cheaper imported product from units where standards are lower.

Even Defra's own Regulatory Impact Assessment puts the implementation cost of the new welfare rules at 38m- 314.5m... or 1.5p-1.8p/kg pigmeat produced, which equates to a production cost increase of 1.5%-2%.

"This is on top of the already imposed stall and tether ban. Consumers still tend to buy on price, not on higher welfare standards. The NPA calls on the government to support and encourage our pig industry in its bid to trade competitively both at home and abroad," says Ann Petersson.

"Additionally, ministers should redouble their efforts for an international consensus on animal welfare to ensure that pigmeat imports to the UK are sourced from units with similarly high welfare standards to our pig industry."

Source: National Pig Association - 2nd February 2003

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