LONDON – Eighteen European Union member states will be in compliance with a ban on gestation stalls by the time it becomes effective on Jan. 1, 2013.

Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium have announced that pork producers will be fully compliant with the stall ban by the end of 2012, while Poland expects 94 percent of its producers to have phased out stalls by 2013. The United Kingdom has banned sow stalls since 1999, but will not be outlawed in the EU until 2013.

Britain’s Food and Farming Minister Jim Paice welcomed the news, saying compliance with the ban would ensure Britain’s pig farmers a level playing field in trade. Britain has been pressuring the European Commission to enforce the ban.

“I promised to push the Commission to be as robust as possible and I welcome the approach they and other member states are taking to improve and enforce welfare standards across Europe," Paice said. “It’s a pity that not everyone is going to be compliant by the deadline but from the perspective of the UK pig industry, all of our main competitors will be.”