Mr Hague warned that Britain's pig farming industry faced collapse because of the challenge from Danish producers whose costs were lower because they were not bound by the UK's strict animal welfare regulations.
"We will ensure that British farmers are not penalised by their high standards," Mr Hague said during a visit to Moorfield Pig Farm at Oxton, Nottinghamshire. He also called for tighter labelling rules to ensure that meat from pigs raised abroad but processed in Britain could not be passed off as British.
Conservatives acknowledged that the move would infuriate Britain's EU partners, but insisted that the Government should put the interests of British farmers first. Mr Hague's move was intended to highlight growing rural discontent with the Government, days beforeboth the National Farmers' Union and the Countryside Alliance are due to stage protest rallies at the Labour conference in Bournemouth.
Under the Tory proposals,food imports not meetingBritish standards of hygiene and animal welfare would be banned. It would particularly affect pig meat products from Denmark and the Netherlands, where most pigs are farmed under the "stall and tether" system which was outlawed in Britain under animal welfare legislation introduced by the last Tory government.