EU Organic Day: what it could mean for animal welfare
This launch is part of the European Organic Action Plan 2021-2027, released last March, which follows the objectives set out in the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies of “at least 25% of the EU’s agricultural land under organic farming and a significant increase in organic aquaculture by 2030.”
Eurogroup for Animals particularly welcomes the contribution of the Action Plan to better align animal welfare with the societal demands on higher animal welfare and to further improve animal welfare in organic production. The recognition of the link between aquaculture and animal welfare, as well as the promotion of organic aquaculture are also welcomed.
The Commission states that organic farming already plays an important role in improving the welfare of animals and that animal welfare is an integral part of sustainable food systems. However, there are still animal welfare issues in organic farming that urgently need to be addressed.
Today at the launch of EU Organic Day, we used the opportunity to alert the institutions to the need for a comprehensive animal welfare labelling system as well as a need for animal welfare standards to aim higher: the need for stricter criteria to define adapted breeds, a truly compulsory access to pasture for livestock, a ban on mutilations, availability of immunocastration, transport time limitations, and proper enforcement for the existing organic rules for animal welfare.
Eurogroup for Animals recommends the European Commission to:
- Quantify the target for organic aquaculture by aligning it with the target for terrestrial farming, i.e. 25% of aquaculture sites by 2030.
- Implement concrete animal welfare improvements such as slow-growing breeds in broilers, a ban on surgical castration of pigs and transport time limitations.
- Adopt Methods of Production (MoP+) labelling with one of the top levels integrating organic production.
- Ensure proper enforcement of the existing organic rules for animal welfare, e.g effective stunning of fish at slaughter, before granting the organic logo.
- In identifying the obstacles for more organic agriculture and aquaculture, the reduction and replacement of animal products and a shift to more plant-based diets, as well as the need to shift to low-trophic aquatic species, should be seen as solutions.
Eurogroup for Animals welcomes the new Organic Action plan and sees the potential of organic production to be classified as the top tier method of production as well as an EU-wide labelling system for animal welfare. However, organic farming should lead the way towards the EU’s sustainable and humane food production model, reflecting the ambitions of the Farm to Fork strategy. While the language in the Organic Action Plan is still vague, we welcome the commitment to improving animal welfare, including farmed fish. We are looking forward to working with the Commission and other stakeholders to ensure organic farming will embrace the highest possible animal welfare standards.Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals