DENMARK - The Danish pig sector has called for even handed treatment across Europe over the implementation of welfare controls.
The Danish Agriculture & Food Council (DAFC) says there should be identical production control procedures to apply across the EU and a common EU control approach.
A new report from the Danish industry the shows that Danish pig producers are alone in the EU in having their farm subsidies withdrawn for non-compliance of controls undertaken at the slaughterhouse.
The report says that it is not only ‘out in the fields’ that Denmark is guilty of ‘gold plating’ of EU legislation.
There are also significant differences in welfare controls.
When Danish pigs arrive at the slaughterhouse, and the authorities find health or welfare-related discrepancies, the producer not only receives a fine, but his EU subsidy is also withdrawn.
However, producers in Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands are exonerated in similar circumstances, the report from NaturErhvervsstyrelsen, which has compared practices in these four countries, reveals.
The Chairman of the Danish Pig Research Centre, Lindhart B. Nielsen (pictured) , speaking at the recent annual meeting and conference of the Danish Pig Research Centre in Herning said that there is no problem in the fact that there are penalties in cases where animal welfare-related alarm bells ring.
He said that when 30 million pigs are produced per year, it is unavoidable that in a few cases an injured pig may be loaded onto a lorry or an injury may occur on the way to the slaughterhouse.
However, he said that there should be some tolerance levels established.
”The report clearly shows that there is a “lower threshold limit” in our neighbouring countries. Such a rigid approach may undermine the spirit and the desire to produce pigs in Denmark, when we know that we have a higher welfare level than countries such as Germany and the Netherlands,” said Mr Nielsen.
The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration’s Annual Report ”Animal Welfare in Denmark 2013” showed that the welfare of Danish pigs significantly improved from 2011-2012.
“We’re already one of the countries in Europe where it is most expensive to produce because of levies, taxes and administrative burdens,” Mr Nielsen said.
“Therefore, it seems completely illogical that we withdraw our pig producers’ farm subsidies when all other countries’ take no action when the same non-compliances occur.
“Perhaps our politicians should instead use their energy on creating fairer market conditions.”
He added: “With the constructive statements we have heard from the Government about boosting Danish pig production and the benefits for economic growth and employment, I hope that focus on fair and reasonable implementation of EU legislation going forward will be matters of concern for the relevant ministers.”