ULSTER Farmers’ Union Pork and Bacon Chairman Ivor Ferguson has written directly to all local retailers asking them to outline their position with regards to the high level of EU pig farmers who are non-compliant with the European Commission’s ban on the use of sow stalls.
1st January 2013 saw the implementation of the EU Commission’s ban on the use of sow stalls on all European pig farms with producers having to adopt more animal welfare friendly practices; however both the level of compliance and how the pigmeat market will respond to the legislation is relatively unknown. Mr Ferguson said: “Animal welfare has always been a priority for our local pig industry. UK producers implemented a ban on sow stalls 13 years ago in 1999 and have been committed to ensuring our pork and bacon is exclusively produced under animal welfare friendly conditions. Although there are no formal measures in place to prevent imports from illegal systems, we feel that it is imperative for retailers to ensure they have robust and reliable policies to guarantee to their customers as well as producers that the pork and bacon which they are using meets the EU’s legal requirements.”
Ivor continued: “We have also recently visited a number of local supermarkets to inspect what pork and bacon products are on sale with very mixed results. If retailers source reliably from local pig producers who have been compliant with the Sow Stall Ban for more than 13 years it would send out a very strong and positive message to both local consumers and the Northern Ireland pig industry. In the meantime the UFU will continue to audit stores throughout Northern Ireland and will await a direct response from retailers.”