Eurogroup for Animals endorses the FARMS initiative on farmed animal responsible minimum standards
The FARMS Initiative, jointly founded by Compassion in World Farming, World Animal Protection and the Humane Society International, seeks to obtain realistic but impactful improvements from financial institutions in the way they manage the risks and opportunities related to farmed animal welfare. Financial institutions have a number of mechanisms by which they can influence the companies they finance, invest in or insure, including engaging with businesses on specific issues, or creating and enforcing internal or external policies.
When producers improve their practices – including the infrastructure and equipment used to house, transport and slaughter animals, but also with respect to how their staff interact with animals – there is not only a tremendous benefit to the animals, there are also advantages for the environment, public health and the people who work with animals. The global movement to improve farmed animal welfare reflects a moral obligation to treat other sentient beings with care and respect, but also shows the rising expectations consumers have about the animal-sourced foods they consume.
The FARMS Initiative recommends that banks no longer finance new construction of housing systems, infrastructure or equipment which do not meet the Responsible Minimum Standards. In particular, systems of confinement such as cage housing for laying hens and gestation crates for sows should not be financed. These housing systems can be expensive and have a working life of 15-25 years, if not more, and have the potential to become stranded assets, based on the clear trend away from cages and crates resulting from welfare concerns. The FARMS Initiative also recommends that banks encourage producers who are not currently using systems, infrastructure or equipment which meet the Responsible Minimum Standards to create a time-bound plan for transitioning towards meeting the Responsible Minimum Standards, including by providing attractive financing to producers who do so.
In addition, the FARMS initiative encourages investors and insurers to use the Responsible Minimum Standards in conjunction with the FAO-OECD Guidance on Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains and OECD Responsible Business Conduct for Institutional Investors.Eurogroup for Animals was part of the scientific committee that developed the standards; experts from our member organisations contributed to refining the species-specific requirements. The standards are accompanied by a document setting out the overarching principles that apply across species. The detailed standards currently include beef and dairy cattle, broiler chickens, laying hens, and pigs. They are freely available for download in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Vietnamese. Third-party auditing is a key requirement of the Responsible Minimum Standards and the website offers the possibility to obtain more information on how to satisfy this condition. We believe that the Responsible Minimum Standards have the potential for improving the lives of billions of animals globally.