The European Commission is working on a revision of the animal welfare directive, following a widely supported citizens’ initiative to ban farrowing pens. Copa Cogeca had 3 scenarios calculated: an immediate ban on farrowing pens for sows in 2025, a ban in 2035, and a ban with a transitional period until 2045.
A ban on farrowing pens, where sows lie inbetween tubes, could reduce pork production in the European Union by 23.6% by 2025; 37.2% in Eastern Europe and 21.2% in Western Europe. With a transitional period until 2035, production will decrease by 8.4%. Another 10 years later, this is 5.6% less production. The consequences are largest in Eastern Europe, Denmark and Portugal. The measure means that the EU will no longer be a net exporter of pork.
The ban on farrowing pens will increase production costs by 47% when the measure comes into effect in 2025. If there is a 10-year transitional period, it is 11%. In addition to the housing system, the higher costs include lower production, more feed, higher mortality among piglets and sows, higher veterinary costs and higher labour costs. As a result, profits will decrease by 38% in the short term, or 28% in a transitional period. Profits are falling sharply, particularly in Western Europe.
In the study, 30.4% of the surveyed sow farmers say they will stop if there is a pen ban. It mainly concerns smaller companies. This concerns 23% of the pig farms, which together have 1% of the sows in the EU. 67% of pig farmers are negative about a ban on farrowing pens. They fear that piglet, sow, and employee welfare will not improve.
When looking at the climate effect, the ban will lead to a CO2 reduction of 22.3% in the EU in the short term. However, due to increasing imports, CO2 emissions in non-EU countries are increasing. In Europe, 96% of sows are kept in farrowing pens. In the Netherlands it is 98%.
The researchers expect that the cage ban will lead to further economies of scale in pig farming. Copa Cogeca calls on politicians to give farmers time to switch, to reduce the negative effects.