Happy New Year and welcome to 2013!
The great news is that caging sows throughout their pregnancies is now illegal throughout the European Union! It was a hard-fought victory and another nail in the coffin for the extreme confinement forms of factory farming from half a century ago. Some 13 million sows face better lives as a result.
The shameful news is that 14 countries may well have entered the New Year as law-breakers. The European Commission admits that a number of countries haven’t done enough to be ready for the ban, including Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and the Netherlands. There really 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 be punished, rather than being allowed to play the victim.
So, the hard work begins of ensuring the ban is properly enforced across Europe. It seems staggering that so many countries are allowed to get away with non-compliance after such a generous notice period of over a decade. Farmers in Britain did away with sow stalls in 1999, following a campaign spearheaded by Compassion in World Farming and Parliamentary pig champion, Sir Richard Body MP. Now is the time to ensure that Europe has a level playing field and plays fair on animal welfare.