In mid-June, the EU Commission announced that 18 Member States had confirmed that they expected all of their remaining pig breeders to be compliant with the new regulations by 1 January 2013. The Member States involved were: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Malta, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
Although many of these Member States are already close to full compliance, some will need to make rapid progress to meet their commitment without losing a large proportion of production.
Of the remaining nine Member States, five are expecting to be over 90 per cent compliant by the end of the year. These are Austria, Finland, Greece, Poland and Slovenia. Of the remainder, Cyprus and Portugal will have lower compliance rates, while France has not yet provided data to the Commission and Italy has provided data but has requested that the Commission do not publish it because of the way it was collected.
In many smaller Eastern Member States, including Bulgaria, Czech Republic, the Baltic States, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia, compliance is not considered a major issue as they have few large-scale producers and many of them did not use stalls anyway. Therefore, most expect to be fully compliant or close to it, without a significant fall in production as a result (although production may fall for other reasons). In some smaller Member States in the south, including Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Portugal, the economic situation has made it very difficult for producers to access the finance required for investment. This means that significant numbers of producers in some of these countries will be unable to convert to group housing by the end of the year. Some will leave the industry, particularly as the financial position of producers has worsened lately but some may continue in the short-term. How governments will respond to this is not yet clear. Provisional results of pig censuses from various Member States show that the EU pig herd and, in particular, the breeding herd declined over the year to May/June 2012. This came despite feed prices during the year being lower than they were in the periods immediately before and after. Census results are now available from most major producers, representing over 80 per cent of the EU pig herd. Overall, pig numbers across these countries were down by 1.5 per cent, while sow numbers were down by nearly four per cent. All of the countries except for Romania recorded a fall in their breeding herds.
Octiober 2012/ BPEX/ United Kingdom.