On June 27th, Compassion in World Farming hosted the 2019 edition of the Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards in Brussels, Belgium. This annual ceremony rewards food businesses for their commitments to higher animal welfare. The 2019 edition rewarded dozens of corporations for egg-laying hens, rabbits, turkey, broiler chickens, dairy cows and – new this year – calves, under two categories: cage-free, and sustainability in production.
The event kicked off with an inspiring speech by Compassion in World Farming’s Executive Director and Eurogroup for Animals Vice-President, Philip Lymbery, who mentioned the European Citizens’ Initiative to end the use of cage in animal agriculture (“End the Cage Age”). Philip shared with the audience his excitement to host the ceremony in Brussels, “the heart of the European Union.”
This year’s edition was marked by the presence of Chinese food businesses, which are increasingly committing to raise animal welfare standards across the production chain. Mr Ayoshi, the Director of the International Cooperation Committee of Animal Welfare (ICCAW), gave an insightful presentation on the state of play for farm animal welfare standards in China.
French producers, retailers and caterers were by far the most represented country on the stage, gaining what seemed like the majority of the awards. Rather than indicating that the country leads on farm animal welfare, though, this is a promising indication that France – a world leader in food production and retail – is taking animal welfare seriously.
Some businesses were returning to the ceremony to receive an award: they included French retailer Monoprix, receiving a prize for the third year, this time as the first business to commit to the European Chicken Commitment in France; and the Loué cooperative, the undisputed leader of free-range poultry in France. Others were receiving an award for the first time, such as French retailer Carrefour.
The ceremony was the opportunity to display the impressive work CiWF’s food business team conducted and the progress achieved in the private sector. These efforts highlight the need to work hand-in-hand with the private sector in a collaborative and inclusive way to achieve immense progress for billions of animals.
The international dimension of the event showed that farm animal welfare is a global phenomenon. The fact that change is happening even beyond Europe’s borders restored hope among advocates, as did the fact that companies are taking steps towards ambitious standards for animals over and above EU legal requirements. The event demonstrated that many of the corporations that directly affect the lives of animals are moving in the right direction.