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EU Countries Prepare for Stalls Ban

by 5m Editor
21 October 2010, at 11:35pm

EU - At a recent meeting in Brussels, representatives from EU countries were reluctant to declare their country's level of preparedness for the sow stall ban due to come into effect in 2013.

At the European Union pig meat price forecasting group in Brussels earlier this month, Barney Kay of the UK National Pig Association (NPA) asked for each member country to indicate its level of preparedness for the 2013 partial stalls ban.

According to BPEX Weekly, he commented: "To say there was a degree of reluctance around the table would be putting it mildly."

Austria did not give a figure. The industry had been in the process of planning reinvestment in loose-housed systems, but the current market conditions have slowed progress. The Austrians would like producers who have invested relatively recently in stall system to be given a derogation to continue using them for their natural commercial life (15 to 20 years).

Denmark says 70 per cent of the industry has already converted. Some small units will quit pigs in 2013 but much of the short-fall will be taken up by the expansion of larger units. Nevertheless, overall there will be a fall in the national sow herd.

The German delegate was unable to say how many producers had converted. He indicated the industry was still some way off being compliant. He predicted problems if small farms closed and new bigger units were proposed as the German public is increasingly opposed to large industrial-scale enterprises.

Ireland estimates it is 60 to 70 per cent loose-housed. Grants are available to assist producers with the the change-over but they are for existing farms. So if small farms decide to close, larger units cannot get grant funding to expand production.

In Greece, 70 per cent of pig producers are in real difficulty. Therefore, very few will be ready by 2013.

In France, 30 to 40 per cent of producers are compliant, probably accounting for 40 to 50 per cent of pigs.

In Italy, about 30 per cent of units are ready. A lot of smaller producers will quit rather than convert.

Hungary is in the same position as for the change to enriched poultry cages, i.e. not at all prepared.

In the Netherlands, two-thirds of the industry is already loose-housed.

Spain says 30 to 40 per cent of units have already converted. The remaining producers are considering making the changes but in the current financial climate, they cannot afford it.

Poland claims its producers never really invested in stalls so it is already compliant.