The industry added that of those yet to convert, a large proportion were in the final stages of adapting to meet the new EU legislation, which comes into effect in 2013, while the remainder will cease production by December.
Asger Krogsgaard, chairman of the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, said: “We are almost there. For many farmers, this has involved considerable investment in updating and modernising their systems. Undoubtedly, it will add to the costs of production for most of these farmers, but many of us have seen the legislation as part of a much wider process, which is continuously improving welfare standards in our production.”
Danish pig farmers have benefited from plenty of support during the 10-year transition period, with help from the Danish Pig Research Centre, which has provided practical advice to producers.
Krogsgaard said the changes were being taken seriously: “The Danish authorities already run a programme of ‘unannounced audits’ of pig producers to ensure they are adhering to all the welfare legislation. In addition, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration wrote to all pig herd owners and pig veterinarians to make it clear that any breach of legislation found during their welfare inspection programme would be reported to the police.
“Furthermore, the Danish authorities have also made it clear that any producers found not to be complying with the new rules will forfeit their entitlement to support under the EU Single Farm Payment. I am confident that, as a country, we will ensure all the requirements of the new legislation are fully met.”
However, he expressed concern about what would be happening elsewhere in the EU: “Although available evidence indicates there will be varying levels of compliance across other member states, there should be no ‘derogation’ from the planned implementation. We stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with our British colleagues on this.
“It is imperative that everyone ‘plays to the same rules’. Those producers who have invested and thus increased their costs of production have to be rewarded by strong, consistent enforcement of the new law across the EU. There should not be any distortion of the market. The EU and individual countries’ authorities must adopt a consistent and rigorous approach to enforcement from the outset.”