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Finnish ag minister: improvements at pig farms

Sirkka-Liisa Anttila, the Finnish minister of agriculture and forestry, has promised that animal welfare improvements will be carried out at pig farms throughout Finland.

Anttila said that Finland will provide investment subsidies for the establishment of new pig farms. Before that, stricter animal welfare rules will be drawn up. Farmers who are interested to implement them will be entitled to state support.


The pig farmer will decide whether or not to take the road of better animal welfare, in which case the state will pay for 75% of the extra costs. This is quite a strong incentive," Anttila said.


Pig animal welfare
Over a week ago, discussions started up, when an animal rights organisation released material of pigs being kept in difficult conditions. As a consequence, state veterinarians conducted inspections at about 30 pig farms and concluded there were shortcomings at 14 of them.


Defects included dirty and wet sties, insufficient stimulus for the animals, and inadequate ventilation. The shortcomings were seen as serious by Jaana Mikkola of the Finnish Food Safety Authority (EVIRA).


Impact on pigs
Mikkola added, "They have an immediate impact on the well-being of the animals. It is not just a question of a half a square metre too little space, or a feed trough 20 centimetres too short."


The pig owners have been ordered to fix the shortcomings. EVIRA is also asking police to investigate. In 2008, defects were found at 15% of pig farms at routine inspections. In the recent inspections it was also examined how veterinarians had dealt with previous visits.


Slaughterhouses
Anttila said that the current enforcement system is not flawless. She promised that vets would be given training for the task for making inspections. Slaughterhouses will also get more responsibility for scrutinising pig well-being.


"When slaughterhouses receive pigs from a farm they will check to see what condition the animals are in. If there are problems, a message will be sent and measures will be taken," Anttila added.


Related websites:
EVIRA
Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry

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