More work needed on pig welfare points says UK farm minister

More work needs to be done on two pig-related areas of animal welfare research, UK farm minister, George Eustice, said in Brussels today.

Speaking during a Council of Farm Minister’s debate on the setting up of a new EU animal welfare platform, Mr Eustice commented that the UK, while fully supporting the EU initiative, would like to see animal welfare reflected more in the next round of CAP reform.

He then added: “In the case of pigs, we have more scientific work to do, for instance in developing improved environmental enrichment for housed pigs and also in terms of improving carbon dioxide gas mixtures where these are used in slaughterhouses.”

In addition, Mr Eustice (pictured above) said that while the UK fully supported the principle of improving the sharing of animal welfare’s scientific and technical knowledge, he would not want the new initiative to serve as a distraction from the consistent enforcement of existing EU rules and the Commission’s obligations under the 2012-15 EU animal welfare strategy.

Overall, however he said that the UK “liked” the idea of a Commission-led animal welfare platform.

“We think this will serve to strengthen animal welfare standards and we would be happy to participate,” he said.

The council duly gave its “broad support” for the creation of a new EU platform, in line with the contents of a joint-position paper submitted by Germany, Sweden, Denmark and The Netherlands.

European farmers and co-operatives bodies Copa and Cogeca, however, highlighted the high welfare standards that already existed in the EU, and said these needed to be simplified and better enforced.

“The focus must be on ensuring proper implementation and harmonisation of existing EU rules rather than creating new legislation,” Copa-Cogeca secretary general Pekka Pesonen said.

Future developments on animal welfare need to be on simplifying existing legislation, giving more flexibility to operators and reducing the high administrative costs they suffer.”

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Freelance journalist Colin Ley is Pig World's website news reporter