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David Cameron: UK implements higher welfare too soon

News Section Icon Published 17/01/2012

Compassion was disappointed to hear the Prime Minister's lack of support for the UK, in bringing in higher welfare systems ahead of the legal obligatory time.

Speaking on Sunday night's Countryfile on BBC television, David Cameron gave his view on the UK's legislation, accusing the nation of implementing changes too soon.

Leading the way in pig welfare, the use of sow stalls on UK pig farms has been outlawed since 1999. A partial ban on their use will be coming into place across the EU in 2013.

David Cameron said of the ban:

"There has been a tendency in Britain, and all governments have done this, to jump into putting the changes [in place] in advance of the actual legal necessity and, as a result sometimes we've actually exported, for example a lot of our pig production, to other European countries. But if we'd put in place the changes at the same time as others, our pig farmers would have had a more level playing field."

To which Compassion in World Farming's Chief Policy Advisor, Peter Stevenson responded:

"I share the Prime Minister's concerns that British farmers should not be subjected to unfair competition. However industry figures show that the UK ban on sow stalls, which came into force in 1999, added just 2 pence to the cost of producing a kilo of pig meat. There were many other reasons that British pig farmers' costs were so much higher than those of their continental competitors at the turn of the century - the main factors being, the then strength of sterling, and also the fact that we had, because of BSE, banned the use of meat and bone-meal in animal feed, whereas the continent had not yet introduced such a ban. The sow stall ban cannot be blamed for putting British pork producers at a serious disadvantage."

Compassion will be campaigning in the build-up of January 2013, to ensure that the sow stall ban is carried out throughout the EU.

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