Sir: Having waited for 14 years to get a level playing field regarding welfare standards, British pig producers will be looking to 2013 to deliver something approaching that. ‘Approaching’ because the rest of the EU will, of course, still be allowed to keep sows in stalls for the critical first four weeks of pregnancy.
But what are the chances of even a nearly level playing field? With official figures showing that about 40% of EU pig production is now illegal, there is a lot at stake - and not just for pig producers. This is about integrity and reputation. The integrity of those who make the law (the Commission), those who are supposed to implement it (national governments) and those who should be obliged to sell only product that has been produced according to the law.
Having been constantly told by the Commission that there was nothing they could do until 2013, the NPA will now be pressing the Commission more strongly. By the same token, retailers and foodservice businesses need to look to the robustness of their auditing and traceability systems. To be found selling illegally produced meat would surely be damaging to both their reputations and the trust of their customers.
Richard Longthorp OBE, chairman, National Pig Association