Today (25th January), Members of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee have voted in favour of a report that may pave the way for the protection and improvement of the welfare of Europe’s 320 million* farmed rabbits.
A key opportunity to improve rabbit welfare
Currently, over 99% of rabbits farmed for meat in the EU spend their lives confined in tiny, barren cages, unable to express their natural behaviours. This vote is the closest we have come to securing new legislation for Europe’s farmed animals in over a decade.
Unfortunately, the amendment that includes legislation did not pass at this stage. However, we will continue to push for species-specific legislation in the Plenary session in a few weeks.
We have been working hard for many years to improve the welfare of rabbits farmed for meat across the EU. In 2012 and 2014, we exposed their terrible plight through undercover investigations and achieved mass media coverage of both investigations, helping to raise awareness of this cruel trade.
Last May we presented our 600,000 signature-strong petition to Europe’s Agriculture Ministers, calling for an end to the farming of rabbits in cages and recently asked children throughout the EU to send in rabbit drawings of how they believe rabbits should be kept. We delivered these drawings to MEPs, ahead of today, urging them to vote in favour the report. We are pleased that many MEPs have listened and taken action on a number of the amendments that will improve farmed rabbits’ welfare.
Emma Slawinski, our Director of Campaigns, says: “Today we have overcome the first hurdle on the path to ensuring higher welfare conditions for rabbits.
“It is encouraging that the majority of MEPs voted in favour of the report presented by MEP Stefan Eck (GUE), recognising the need to move away from the obsolete cage system for rabbits - bringing rabbit farming into the 21st century.”
Ending the cage age for Europe’s rabbits
Following today’s Committee vote, the report – which is backed by many scientists – will be voted on in the Plenary session of the European Parliament in a few weeks.
It is essential that MEPs vote in favour of the report - proving that they do listen to the calls of citizens, and not special interest groups that wish to maintain existing cruel standards for rabbits. We remain hopeful that they will vote for an amendment in favour of the introduction of legislation to improve welfare for rabbits.
Our CEO, Philip Lymbery says: “This is a major step forward for the rabbits of Europe and has brought farmed rabbits to the forefront of the public and political agenda.”
*Estimated FAOSTAT figures for 2010-13