I am impressed with the EU's efforts to implement a compassionate law for the pigs in their sow stalls. Though not all countries responded well, I applaud their efforts and the compassionate countries who adopted this humane law for the pigs.
This morning I was very sad to read this article from Care2- "EU
Pork Producers Defy Anti-Cruelty Law." I had forgotten about
this compassionate law from the EU which was to take effect on
January 1, 2013. Reading about it now, I was disappointed to find
out that some nations were not completely on board with it.
Sadly, it seems there are no perfect unions anywhere -though we
in the states have not even nearly begun approaching the adoption
of such a compassionate law. Efforts though are being made by
the HSUS to convince buyers of pork products to buy only from
those suppliers who do not use gestation crates.
In 2001 the European Union passed a law which would require all
EU member nations to get rid of their gestation crates by January
1, 2013 and replace them with group housing for pregnant sows.
So the factory farms had been given 12 years notice - plenty of
time to make the conversion from gestation crates to group
housing. Obviously, all the EU countries were not anxious for
their farmers to obey this law.
I was anxious to see which of the 27 EU nations were trying to
abide by this new law for two reasons. First of course, because
I support it, and then secondly, I also keep a close watch on my
parents' homeland - Slovakia. I hoped that her people were caring
and responsible. If you have background ties to Europe, you too
may be interested in these facts.
Piper Hoffman, the writer of this Care2 post, lists the EU
countries and their response to the Anti-Cruelty Law which
would affect over 13 million breeding sows. She credits the
Farmer's Guardian for these results:
LESS THAN 70% COMPLIANCE: Cyprus (48%) Belgium (45), France (33)
Germany (48) Ireland (57) Italy(69) Netherland (63) Portugal (63).
70-90% COMPLIANCE: Denmark (85%) Finland (73), Greece (83),
Latvia (82), Malta (75), Poland (80), Slovenia (72), Spain (70).
90-99% COMPLIANCE: Buglaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania,
100% COMPLIANCE: Austria, Estonia, Luxembourg, Sweden, United
Yes, I am happy for the 12 countries which have moved in the
direction of compassion. Special kudos to the 100 percenters-
Austria, Estonia, Luxembourg, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
That they have outlawed the cruel gestation crates is a wonderful
compassionate move for the pigs. As for the 15 countries whose
numbers are not as caring in this regard - Richard Longthorp observed
re their failure to implement the law completely: "This makes a
mockery of Europe's animal welfare legislation."
Even though the new law is not perfect, it gives pigs about 24
square feet each in a group environment. It takes into account their
"ideal" weight of 300-350 pounds after they have been genetically
engineered to be larger than is healthy for them. Sadly, GE has
reared its unhealthy procedures here as well.
However, should the EU law be wholly implemented, it would still allow
pregnant sows to be locked into tiny farrowing crates for 5 days before
giving birth and for the first 4 weeks of pregnancy. Though still
not the best life for the pigs, it will be far better for them than
the current system.
By now I would imagine that everyone knows about gestation crates
or sow stalls as they are called in Europe, but for anyone who has
never taken the time to read about them, this is the description
given at Hoffman's post:
They are "small metal cages only two feet wide that prevent pregnant
pigs from turning around and even lying down comfortably. Sows spend
most of their adult lives in these crates as they are inseminated
soon after they give birth and thus kept pregnant over four out of
every five months. Gestation crates cripple pregnant pigs and cause
obesity. The fumes and toxins produced from the concentration of so
many animals in one space (wno must urinate and defecate where they
stand sicken them (and humans who "take care" of them). Pigs are
smart animals, and the constant confinement, lack of activity or
stimulation, and pain lead to neurotic behaviors like biting the bars
of their cages over and over, or chewing on nothing."
For anyone who wants to see a video on this cruel barbarity to our
fellow living creatures, this post has one, and I'm sure you can find
one on the Mercy for Animals internet site as well.
As for the less than great compliance to the EU law, Stewart Houston,
chairman of the British Pig Executive was "flabbergasted by the delay
to implement this law. According to Farmers Guardian he said "We were
amazed because we had been working with the commission all year on
this and the messages we were getting was that compliance was much
Also he said that one has to wonder why the farmers who didn't implement
these changes actually turned down free money. They were offered
subsidies of up to 60% of the cost of switching from gestation crates
to group housing. By missing the deadline. he felt it looked like
they were flouting the law deliberately. How sad if true. However,
kudos still belong to the EU for their wonderful efforts in this
direction. The US lags far behind in this regard.
However, nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to CAFO suffering.
Some people in the US even still feel that there are more animal-friendly
family farms than CAFOs here. How I wish that were true.
What can you do if you personally care about farm animal suffering?
First of course, be aware of its existence and belong to animal
welfare groups like the HSUS who will certainly provide us with this
type of information. Support their initiatives by signing their
petitions to Congress and to big food corporations which exploit
And, of course, try to cut down on eating meat, eggs, and dairy. MOST
of the animals providing these foods are exploited in CAFOs. If you
want to do even more -then join us in adopting a plant-based diet
which not only helps the animals, the environment, but even our health.