BRUSSELS, 26 October 2021 - Today the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Parliament voted in favor of the draft resolution on the implementation report on on-farm animal welfare. Compassion in World Farming EU expresses its concern about the outcome which, paradoxically represents a step back for the improvement of welfare conditions of animals on the farm.
The report was meant to address the implementation of the EU legislation on the welfare of animals on the farm, however, the voted text focuses on the concerns of animals’ keepers and farmers, reaffirming, once again, the economic interests of the agriculture sector.
During yesterday’s meeting of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, the assembly voted in favor of a paragraph describing the production of foie gras as respecting the animals’ biological parameters and capable of complying with animal welfare criteria. We highly regret the introduction of this wording as foie gras, translated into “fatty liver”, is considered a luxury product which results from mistreatment and cruel methods that involve forced feeding of ducks and geese. Furthermore, citizens have called for an end to these abusive practices via their strong support for the European Citizens Initiative, End the Cage age. Similarly, the European Parliament's Resolution in June 2021, calls on the European Commission to ban production of foie gras. Therefore, today's vote contradicts both the current position of the Parliament and citizens’ demands.
Elsewhere in the text, we notice that actions to reduce the numbers of farmed animals are addressed as counterproductive in terms of environmental sustainability and detrimental to European environmental objectives. This statement contradicts the recent Farm to Fork Own Initiative report, voted in Plenary last week, which rightfully emphasizes the need to reduce meat consumption to the benefit of human, environmental and animal health. Data on how intensive animal farming practices have direct negative effects on deforestation, air and water pollution are under the nose of everyone. It is worrying and paradoxical to vote on provisions that not only undermine the green targets of the Farm to Fork Strategy, but also blindly assert false information on environmental sustainability.
Additionally, the report fails to recognize solutions to tail-biting problems in pig production and calls for increased financial support for farmers. Amendments addressing the tragic practice of killing male chicks were voted down. A clear definition of a cage has also been requested, to implement the phase out of these according to the European Citizens Initiative, End the Cage Age as well as uniform application of science-based animal welfare rules. Unfortunately, MEPs decided to let the labelling of animal products remain voluntary, leaving dangerous room for maneuver to farmers and the industry.
The draft report now moves to Plenary.
“Ode to Farmers”
The title of this Report might as well be changed into “Ode to Farmers”. It places disproportionate emphasis on farmers’ interests whilst disregarding the animal suffering taking place behind the closed doors of factory farms. Now, more than ever, we are aware of the risks posed by zoonotic diseases, triggered by intensive farming practices. We regret that the scope and the recommendations limit themselves to safeguarding farmers’ gains. As a result, we cannot support a report that maintains business as usual and ignores the suffering of animals, thereby snubbing the concerns of Europe’s citizens.
Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU