Leaked Commission document shows EU organic farming proposal may be axed

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Leaked Commission document shows EU organic farming proposal may be axed

15 December 2014
Eurogroup for Animals
News
A leaked draft of the European Commission’s work programme for 2015 shows that the proposed new regulation on organic farming will be scrapped. The European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker will publish his final programme in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday 16 December following its approval at the College of Commissioners held earlier that day.

A leaked draft of the European Commission’s work programme for 2015 shows that the proposed new regulation on organic farming will be scrapped. The European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker will publish his final programme in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday 16 December following its approval at the College of Commissioners held earlier that day.

The draft programme, which also contains a list of several new initiatives for 2015, also appears to have completely left out needed references to improving and enforcing animal welfare requirements, whether through farming legislation or alternative means.

Although the Commission’s original proposal for an organic regulation contains several serious shortcomings, Eurogroup for Animals had seen the planned revision of the organic framework as an opportunity to integrate needed animal welfare improvements in organic agriculture.

Eurogroup for Animals wants to ensure that several exceptions to animal welfare rules that are possible in the current EU regulation on organic farming, such as the use of inappropriate breeds, the tethering of livestock, and unnecessary castration will be removed. Ill-defined provisions for transport and slaughter, among other practices, must be developed and improved.

Detailed rules for some livestock species, such as rabbits, are currently missing, and existing rules for several species, including calves and sows, are inadequate.

This new development could now threaten needed improvements. It may signal a lost opportunity for strengthening the public’s confidence in organic farming. If a new legislative framework on organic farming does not progress under the new Commission, then ultimately alternative action will be needed to improve the clarity, development and enforcement of higher animal welfare standards under existing organic legislation.

Commenting on the content of the Work Programme, Reineke Hameleers Director at Eurogroup for Animals said: “We call on all actors to counter the threat of continued stagnation and neglect of animal welfare in all its forms, be it through organic farming or other legislation that impacts animals. Rather than axing legislation, that could help improve public confidence and the universal attainment of higher standards in organic animal farming, the new Commission should propose constructive and innovative ways forward to ensure a sustainable economy that also cares for animals.

She concluded: “One crucial step in this process would be to ensure the integration of animal welfare in the work programme of the Commission and to reinstate a commitment to address the shortcomings of existing legislation on organic farming, which should address animal welfare concerns and support consumer confidence.

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We call on all actors to counter the threat of continued stagnation and neglect of animal welfare in all its forms, be it through organic farming or other legislation that impacts animals.
Reineke Hameleers, Director at Eurogroup for Animals