Organic farming opinion puts animal welfare into focus
Amid continued uncertainty surrounding the future of the Commission’s organic farming proposal, the Rapporteur in the European Parliament’s Environment Committee, Sirpa Pietikäinen, has taken the first step towards ensuring better recognition of animal welfare in organic farming.
Her draft Opinion, which will be debated this afternoon, Tuesday, 24 February should help ensure that EU consumers who buy organic animal products will be able to trust that the food labelled as organic also meets higher animal welfare standards.
“Several exceptions to higher animal welfare rules exist in organic farming which coupled with the general underdevelopment of animal welfare standards, mean that organic animal products vary considerably across the EU. Serious problems experienced today include the use of inappropriate and un-adapted livestock breeds on organic farms, the tethering and movement restriction of certain livestock, the unnecessary and painful castration of pigs, as well as Ill-defined provisions for transport and slaughter. The situation is simply unacceptable from a consumer and animal welfare perspective, and it also undermines efforts to ensure fair and equal competition among organic farmers in the EU,” said Reineke Hameleers, Director of Eurogroup for Animals.
Eurogroup acknowledges that the efforts to improve EU wide consumer confidence on animal welfare in organic farming will be difficult. For the moment many EU member states and farming organisations seem much more concerned about ensuring short term growth in the organic sector than in addressing underlying consumer confidence concerns that could undermine the longer term sustainability and success of the sector which is currently growing rapidly.
“We welcome the publication of Mrs. Pietikäinen’s draft Opinion. She has proved herself time and again to be a strong proponent of more transparent labelling that can build consumer trust. We encourage the Environment Committee to support her in developing holistic solutions to our food concerns that also address the plight of animals, and we encourage all MEPs to grasp this opportunity to further improve animal welfare in organic farming by tabling additional animal welfare related amendments where appropriate that will ensure a swift transition to improved husbandry practices,” stated Ms Hameleers.
“Action is needed now to improve the clarity, development and enforcement of higher animal welfare standards in organic legislation. We hope that the lead Rapporteur for this file in the Agriculture Committee, Martin Hauesling, will also use this opportunity to improve public confidence in organic animal products, as would be assured through the improved development and harmonization of organic farming rules across the EU,” concluded Ms Hameleers.
The situation is simply unacceptable from a consumer and animal welfare perspective, and it also undermines efforts to ensure fair and equal competition among organic farmers in the EU.Reineke Hameleers, Director at Eurogroup for Animals