Minister: “Embarrassing” that farmers don’t meet animal welfare standards
If pigs could read the news, they undoubtedly would have been looking forward to the start of 2013.
New animal welfare laws took effect on January 1 that meant that pregnant sows need to be allowed to walk freely during their pregnancies rather than stand in crates that are too small for them to turn or move freely.
But as the year's first month comes to an end, some Danish pig farmers are failing to live up to the regulations, positing Denmark as one of 16 EU countries that are not meeting the EU's animal welfare conditions.
The Ritzau news bureau reports that six percent of pig farmers nationwide are failing to live up to the regulations. According to P4 Nordjylland, the number is even higher in northern Jutland, with one in ten farmers not complying.
And that, according to the food minister, Mette Gjerskov (Socialdemokraterne), is cause for concern.
"I think, frankly, it is embarrassing," Gjerskov told Ritzau news bureau. "The Danish farm industry has pressed very hard for me to go to Brussels and wag my finger at all sorts of other countries."
In Brussels yesterday, Gjerskov supported the EU Health and Consumer Commission's threat to initiate a lawsuit against member states that don't conform with animal welfare rules. Denmark is one of 16 EU countries that is failing to live up to the EU's rules.
"I have asked the commission to be tough and it is now going to go out of our hands because Danish farmers have been unable to follow the rules. It is very embarrassing."
While some farmers have appealed for extra time to comply, Gjerskov wasn't having it.
— Mette Gjerskov (@MetteGjerskov) January 26, 2013
"No amnesty to farmers that don't set the sows free," the food minister wrote on Twitter. "They have had ten years to restructure animal welfare."
She also expressed little sympathy when speaking to Ritzau from Brussels.
"Ninety-four percent [of pig farmers] could figure it out, so the last six percent can too," she said. "We have put a lot of effort into informing farmers about how important this is. It hasn't worked, so now we are going to institute a special control effort."
Failing to live up to the rules can result in fines or the loss of EU funding.