‘SNAIL’S PACE’ ON FAIR COMPETITION FOR PIG PRODUCERS

A demand for harmonisation of animal welfare standards across Europe, to achieve fair competition for pig producers, was made in the House of Lords yesterday (Wednesday).

Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs, and former North Cornwall MP, Lord Tyler said, “2013 is too long to wait for harmonisation of animal welfare standards throughout the EU’s so-called single market? What steps are the Government taking to press for more rapid movement in that direction? According to NFU figures in recent years, our production costs for pig meat are some 20 per cent higher and, although there has been some adjustment as a result of currency changes, the situation is still disproportionate.’ He highlighted lower standards in Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain and challenged the Minister to acknowledge ‘that consumers and producers have a common interest in higher standards and therefore in buying British pork and other pig meat?”

Responding for the Government, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath said: “we would have much preferred the new provisions to come into being long before 2013, but he will also know that negotiations in Europe on the matter were very difficult. Of course, we will continue to press for the highest welfare standards in Europe and for a level playing field between the rest of Europe and the UK.”

Commenting after the brief debate, Lord Tyler said:

“I suspect that the Government has been dragging its feet because it is only too happy for its friends in the supermarkets to buy cheap, low welfare standard pork and pig meat from the continent.

“Certainly, harmonisation and a level playing field are only likely to come at a snail’s pace.

“Both those who worry about welfare standards in pig production, and farmers who are hit by unfair competition, should be working together to demand that the Government matches its warm words with firm action.”

ENDS

The full exchange is available Lords Hansard, 4th February 2009, Col. 666: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200809/ldhansrd/text/90204-0001.htm#09020469000318

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