Pork may not be kosher, but 26 pig farms supply pork products to the Israeli market. To reduce the environmental impact and to give the pigs better living conditions, the Agricultural Ministry has announced a plan to move all existing pig farms from population dense areas in the north to the south of Israel.
Pig farming in Israel, which is allowed only in non-Jewish towns, has a poor environmental track record. In 2009, two pig farmers were charged in an Akko court with a number of environmental violations including allowing pig waste to seep into water supplies, not disposing of pig carcasses in a sanitary manner, and wasting water with leaky pipes.
In rendering his decision, the judge noted that farmers had an economic incentive to not follow environmental and animal welfare guidelines.
“The defendants were able to draw real profits by operating the business in this way,” he stated during sentencing. The judge imposed a 450,000-shekel fine on the farmers and ordered the farm closed.
A joint committee of the Agricultural Ministry and Environmental Protection Ministry recently reviewed the pig farm issue and is recommending that the government go beyond fining errant pork farmers and revise the current law to allow farming only in the south. The committee also is calling for the Israeli government to help establish more environmental and pig friendly farms.
"The committee is recommending the adoption of the European [Union] directive on the matter of animal rights and instituting guidelines in accordance with that, with an emphasis on a significant reduction of the instances in which it is permitted to keep pigs in isolated pens,” the joint committee wrote in its recommendations report.
Ultimately, however, the decision on the pigs’ relocation rests with the Interior Ministry, which is currently headed by Eli Yishai, a member of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party. The Interior Ministry is yet to respond on the pig-farming plan.