The Agriculture Ministry wants all 26 of Israel's pig farms to be moved from the north of the country to the south as part of a NIS 300 million project aimed at reducing pollution in residential areas and giving the swine more space, in accordance with European Union guidelines.
It's up to the Interior Ministry to revise a law restricting pig farming to specified non-Jewish towns in the north, particularly the Galilee town of Ibillin, where most of the farms are located. That ministry has yet to respond to the Agriculture Ministry's request, which was made on the basis of recommendations by a joint agriculture and environment ministry committee.
"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 panel said in a report submitted to the Agriculture Ministry.
The committee said the government should consider paying for the bigger and more environmentally friendly pig farms. Panel members said they hoped Interior Minister Eli Yishai would not hesitate to deal with the issue, given that pigs are considered the epitome of non-kosher animals and that Yishai heads the ultra-Orthodox Shas party. Pigs are not eaten by religious Muslims either.
Other committee recommendations include higher pig pens with good air circulation, in a bid to reduce ammonia emissions and bad odors. The panel also said sows should be given more space to suckle their young and that the space for piglets should be expanded while they are being fattened for slaughter.
In addition to Ibillin, other northern cities and towns currently allowed to host pig farms include Nazareth, Kafr Yasif and Mi'ilya.