New rules set by the European Union mean that farmers may be forced to stop farming if they fail to make costly changes to the conditions their animals are kept in.
As of January 1, 2013, farmers in the EU will be required to keep breeding animals together in open pens for most of their lives, instead of confining them individually in stalls that are often too small for a pig to turn around.
Although the changes are significant sows will still be allowed to be kept in stalls for four weeks after breeding and one week before giving birth. Farmers also may still keep them in different "farrowing crates" for about four weeks after piglets are born, prior to weaning.
The new regulations although not effective until the beginning of next year were passed in 2001. Despite the lengthy warning for farmers to make the changes it is thought that pork production will fall dramatically within the EU, the world's second largest exporter of pork after the US. Analysts have suggested that pork production may drop as much as 10% after the ruling goes into effect, because some farmers are not prepared to make the change. This would subsequently make EU pork more expensive, pushing up demand for US pork.