Following publication of the European Commission's reform blueprint, Compassion in World Farming warns that EU agricultural policy won't achieve its objectives unless it promotes a move away from industrial livestock farming towards more extensive systems with high standards of animal welfare.
On 18 November 2010 the European Commission published its communication on the future of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), which is due to be reformed in 2013.
The document contains some recognition of animal welfare, but fails to place it at the heart of European agricultural policy.
Compassion in World Farming welcomes the Commission's emphasis on targeted payments to farmers for the provision of 'public goods', such as animal welfare, climate change mitigation and food security, as well as for improved environmental performance.
However, Compassion is concerned that the Commission fails to recognise the predominantly industrial nature of Europe's livestock sector and its detrimental impacts. We believe that a core objective of the CAP should be to help Europe replace industrial livestock production with more sustainable and humane forms of animal husbandry.
A move to more extensive, humane systems would not only lead to improved animal welfare, it would also help to solve the three major challenges which the Commission identifies as confronting European agriculture:
- raising farm animals on pasture would minimise the sector's reliance on cereals and soya to feed them and would therefore enhance food security;
- reducing the use of feed crops such as soya for animals would lead to more sustainable use of natural resources such as land, water and fossil fuel energy, and promoting extensive systems would reduce the environmental degradation and biodiversity loss entailed by industrial agriculture;
- supporting farmers to produce good quality food with the high standards of animal welfare increasingly valued by European consumers would increase the competitiveness of Europe's farming sector.
The CAP cannot hope to meet its main objectives unless it takes into account all elements of sustainability, including animal welfare.
Compassion will continue to lobby European institutions to ensure that animal welfare is incorporated more robustly into the CAP reform.
We believe that farm animals should not and need not suffer.
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