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Agriculture ministers call for better animal welfare standards

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On Saturday (20th January), at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture in Berlin, ministers from more than 60 countries signed a declaration calling for better animal welfare standards.

Sustainable and respectful livestock production

Ministers said: “We note that the demand for food of animal origin, in particular food derived from meat, milk and eggs, is projected to rise significantly in many regions of the world due to the growing population, increasing purchasing power and changes in consumer behaviour. At the same time, consumers are increasingly calling for livestock production to be made more sustainable and more respectful of animal welfare.”

A hugely positive step

The document contains several positive references to animal welfare and implicitly recognises that factory farming is environmentally damaging. It also acknowledges that over-consumption of meat and dairy is unhealthy and encourages the development of alternative sources of protein. The statement:         

  • Calls for continued development of basic principles and requirements for animal welfare-friendly husbandry at international level       
  • Emphases the importance of diverse livestock systems – as opposed to recommending universal industrial livestock production
  • Supports integrated crop-livestock-forestry systems, agro-ecology and pasture-based farming. These systems have the potential to deliver good animal welfare
  • Supports research, into alternative sources of protein to feed both people and animals sustainably and safely      
  • Aims to reduce food losses and wastage within livestock production systems, in particular by making better use of human-inedible feed resources       
  • Aims  to improve consumer education and information regarding healthy and sustainable diets

Our Chief Policy Adviser, Peter Stevenson, said: “This is a real break-through. It is a hugely positive step to see so many countries recognising the need for improved animal welfare and the potentially damaging impact of industrial livestock on the environment. “This support for extensive animal husbandry, healthier diets with less animal products and alternative sources of protein could be the beginning of a move away from factory farming.”