BRUSSELS, 16 February 2022 - To say that the Report on on-farm animal welfare adopted today by the European Parliament is a missed opportunity is an understatement. It will do nothing to improve the cruel conditions in which hundreds of millions of animals are kept across the European Union.
Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU, said:
“This is another very disheartening result from the EU Parliament. The assembly has voted for a report that completely fails to meet its stated goal of protecting and improving the welfare of farmed animals. Instead, it has endorsed a text that reads as if it was written 50 years ago, that pays no attention to the cruelty, health risks and environmental damage caused by the factory farming system that prevails today, and ignores scientific advances that can address these problems.”
A missed opportunity
The report was drawn up at the initiative of Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, which is comprised of MEPs with close ties to animal agriculture interests.
Regrettably, the assembly turned a deaf year to input from the Parliament’s Environment Committee which sought to mitigate the contribution of animal farming to the climate and biodiversity crisis and address the rise of antimicrobial resistance and other crucial issues.
Most importantly, the Environment Committee called for a fundamental shift in our agricultural system away from factory farming and towards extensive animal agriculture as one of the quickest and most effective ways to improve on-farm animal welfare.
Such changes are essential to achieving the goals of the European Commission’s ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy for a more sustainable food system and realising the Commission’s intention of revising EU animal welfare legislation with the aim of improving animal welfare and banning caged farming.
The report as voted thus misses the opportunity to make a positive contribution to those processes.
A deeply flawed Report
Besides completely missing its stated objective by devoting much of the text to the economic interests of farmers rather than the welfare of their animals, the report also contradicts previous Parliament positions. For example, whereas the assembly’s resolution last year on the Farm to Fork strategy highlighted the importance of setting higher animal welfare standards in legislation, today’s text merely calls for more clarity rather than a tightening-up of the rules.
Furthermore, despite the numerous well-documented violations of EU animal welfare legislation across Europe, the report warns against drawing general conclusions that such abuse is widespread.
The voted text even goes as far as implying that the force-feeding of geese and ducks in the production of foie gras “respect(s) the animals’ biological parameters and comply with animal welfare criteria” — thus contradicting not only the view of countless animal welfare experts but also of Parliament’s own resolution last year calling for a ban on force-feeding, which it termed “cruel and unnecessary”.
Olga Kikou concluded:
“In drafting this report at its own initiative, Parliament generated a great opportunity to make a constructive contribution to the development of a concrete strategy to address the horrendous animal welfare problems that are widespread on EU farms. But it has chosen to ignore these and instead issued a thinly disguised call for farmers to seek more funding just to maintain the cruel status quo. By turning a blind eye to the horrors of factory farming the assembly has completely failed the huge majority of EU citizens who have made clear, time and again, that they want concrete improvements in the conditions in which farmed animals are kept.”
For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org