New EU farm animal welfare report focuses on farmers not animals

Duck with a pipe in his mouth, animal news
Duck is cruelly force-fed at a farm in France, credit: screenshot from footage Animal Equality

A new report on farm animal welfare adopted by the European Parliament on Wednesday will do nothing to improve the cruel conditions in which hundreds of millions of farm animals are kept, animal welfare organizations said.

Parliament voted in favor of the Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) implementation report on farm animal welfare. The report fails to mention the possible positive impact of improving animal welfare, contradicts animal welfare positions previously adopted by this Parliament and presents foie gras as an animal welfare-friendly practice, the organizations said in a letter before the vote. 

It also calls the well-documented violations of animal welfare in the EU, like the young cows suffering on the ships Karim Allah and Elbeik, exceptions.   

Eurogroup for Animals, Compassion in World Farming and Four Paws said the Agriculture Committee was supposed to focus on implementing EU legislation concerning the welfare of animals on farms but instead focused on farmers’ economic needs.

Foie gras
A particularly painful point in the eyes of animal welfare experts was the mention of the production of foie gras as an animal-friendly practice, contradicting an earlier EU resolution calling for a ban on force-feeding ducks and geese, which it then labelled “cruel and unnecessary.  

“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,” Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU, said in a statement.

“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,” she added.

Last year, Parliament agreed that higher animal welfare standards were necessary in Europe, but the adapted report focuses on labelling rather than implementing EU animal welfare rules, Compassion in World Farming said.

Despite the many well-documented violations of EU animal welfare legislation across Europe, the report warns against drawing general conclusions that such abuse is widespread.

EU does not listen to its citizens
“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,” Kikou said.

“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,” Kikou concluded.

“Over the past years, the European Parliament has adopted several texts, reports and resolutions that were very progressive on matters of animal welfare giving the impression that MEPs are listening to their citizens and are calling for stricter animal welfare measures,” Pierre Sultana, Director at the European Policy Office at Four Paws, said.

“This report however contradicts previous commitments,” Sultana said. “We are tremendously disappointed to see this overall outcome. “

“The implementation report focused heavily on the economic needs and interests of farmers and the topic of labelling rather than the actual implementation of animal welfare legislation and the areas that need improvement,” Sultana added.


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