First, the good news
With the partial sow stall ban coming into force today, animal lovers throughout the EU should be celebrating. This huge step forward for animal welfare will result in millions of pigs living better lives.
In total, more than 13 million sows are set to have their lives greatly improved by the EU ban on sow stalls after the first four weeks of pregnancy.
Not so happy new year
However, based upon official data seen by Compassion, we are expecting up to 14 nations not to comply on time. These are Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and the Netherlands.
Philip Lymbery, Compassion's CEO, says:"There is no excuse for this, given the lengthy phase-in period that all members of the EU have had to prepare for the 2013 ban. Eleven years is ample time for producers to adjust their systems, those who are non-compliant should not be playing the victim."
Farmers have had since 2001 to change their systems; the fact that we are looking at non-compliance in 14 nations is a sad reflection on member states not treating the new legislation with the seriousness it deserves.
What are we doing together to help the sows?
In support of the ban, Compassion's committed supporters have sent over a million messages to politicians and government bodies across the EU as part of our Project Pig campaign.
The Compassion food business team has been in touch with over 150 retailers, manufacturers and food service companies, asking for confirmation that the companies have ensured they will have a legal supply chain as of 1st Jan 2013.
Philip says: "Many UK retailers have already pledged not to sell pork products from non-compliant countries, once the ban comes into force. I would encourage all retailers and processors to follow suit to demonstrate to non-compliant member states that this disregard of the law and of sows' welfare, will not be tolerated."
Despite the fact that compliance levels in France are as low as 33%, it appears that many consumers are completely unaware that this is the case.
From surveys undertaken this month, 67% of the French public think that French origin of pork products guarantees minimum legal requirements for the protection of pigs are respected. With similar results, an Italian survey indicates that 62% of the participants think Italian pig products would be of a higher welfare standard than other countries.
A level playing field
Philip continues: "With approximately 60% of British pig meat being imported - it is cause for extreme concern: for the pigs' welfare, for consumers and their apparent confusion and indeed for our British farmers. With the UK having brought in the ban in 1999, it is high time that UK farmers were able to operate on a level playing field with the rest of the EU."
Please support Project Pig with a donation today so we can continue to push for this vital law to be enforced in every EU nation.