After last month’s embarrassing discovery that 30 British egg producers were flouting an EU ban on battery cages, Defra is seeking reassurance from British pig farmers that they are 100% compliant with an impending ban on sow stalls.

The National Pig Association said it was asked to confirm at a recent meeting with Defra that no British pig farmer was still using sow stalls, which have been banned in the UK since 1999 and will be prohibited across the EU from 1 January 2013.

“Defra weren’t 100% happy with what happened on eggs, and neither they nor we want to say we’re 100% compliant unless we’re able to prove it,” said NPA director Stewart Houston. “We’re working on proof for them at the moment.”

Defra has also called on the industry to ensure its producers comply with all other EU pig welfare rules ahead of the ban, including new rules on slats.

Like the UK egg industry, British pig producers are concerned that not all member states will be compliant with the ban next January and have asked the government to protect their industry against illegal imports.

Last month, Defra also had to admit that 30 British egg producers had failed to comply with the ban on battery cages, which came into force on 1 January. The UK had previously led the charge against non-compliant member states, and British producers had called for import bans on illegally produced eggs.

A Defra spokeswoman said the government did not want to see “what happened with eggs happen with pigs” but stressed that Defra believed everyone in the UK was compliant with the sow stall ban. It had asked for information in response to a request from the EC, she added, and the UK would make the ban an agenda item at an Agriculture Council meeting in March “to keep the pressure up”.