“Every time you open the door to one of these farms, you tell yourself: ‘it will be better than the last. They can’t all be ignoring the law, they can’t all be inflicting such misery.’ But then you see the pigs, and realise the scale of the suffering. It breaks your heart.” Compassion in World Farming’s Head of Investigations.
According to the main animal welfare organisations in the EU, including Compassion in World Farming (CiWF), the vast majority of pig farms inspected under the Pigs Directive have been “blatantly flouting European law”. How are they getting away with this, and what is the EU Commission doing about it?
The Pigs Directive was supposed to improve the ethical standards for factory farmed pigs in the EU. According to the biggest European animal welfare organizations in the EU, there is a “degree of contempt for those many EU citizens who are concerned about animal welfare as well as for the requirements of the Treaty in this area and the rule of law’. This claim was made in a joint letter to the three relevant EU presidents, the Presidents of the EU Agriculture Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament.
Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), Eurogroup for Animals, Humane Society International, PROVIEH and Vier Pfoten, expressed in the letter “deep dissatisfaction with the failure of the Commission to secure compliance by the EU pig sector with important provisions of EU legislation on the welfare of pigs”.
In 2013, Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) inspected 45 big pig farms in six member states: Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Poland and Cyprus. Of the 45 farms, 44 were breaking rules on enrichment provision and tail docking, “blatantly flouting European law”.
These breaches have been reported to the European Commission but no action has yet been taken. Mr. Stevenson of CIWF added: “The European Union’s collective failure to act on these breaches is an inexcusable mockery of the legal system. Why create a law if not to enforce it? We will continue to urge the Member States and the Commission to belatedly enforce the Pigs Directive, and await an adequate response from the President to our letters.”
In August 2013, seven months have passed since the European Union introduced a ban on the cruel practice of keeping sows in stalls, and yet data published then by the European Commission confirmed that only 13 member countries were fully compliant with the legislation. This means, according to the National Pig Association (NPA) representing the British pig farming, that half of EU countries have failed to clamp down on pig farms where sows are illegally confined for most of their lives. The National Pig Association asked British retailers and food manufacturers to continue to be “vigilant against imports from non-compliant countries as British consumers expect all imported pork and pork products to be traceable back to compliant farms”.
In September 2013 Dan Jørgensen – president of parliament’s welfare and conservation of animals intergroup of the European Parliament said: “We need an animal welfare commissioner who can stand up to vested interests and ensure that EU law is upheld. The commission cannot sit idly by as Directives are systematically and nonchalantly flaunted”. Jørgensen added then: “EU pigs directive ‘completely flouted'”. According to Dan Jørgensen “It’s high time we had a dedicated, proactive and focused commissioner for animal welfare who can uphold EU law, meet the demands of our citizens and improve the lives of hundreds of millions of sentient beings”.
For more on pigs and industrial farming, see here
For more on our #wearefedup demo against industrial farming see here
For more on Ireland and pig farming – “beyond the worst expectations” of the CiWF investigators, see the video, read the text and compain to Irish Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney click here.