Last week (7 February), the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, the President of the Confederation of Commerce and the Director of the Union of Poultry Professionals of the Slovak Republic signed a memorandum stating that by 2030 all Slovak egg producers will shift from caged production systems to alternative ones (i.e. barn, aviary, free range).
Slovakia leading the way
The three parties involved commented that the need for the memorandum came from the increasing social pressure to move away from eggs produced in caged systems. Currently, almost 80% of the country’s egg production comes from enriched cage systems which creates a real risk for Slovak eggs being unwanted and, eventually, disappearing from the market because of the pressure applied by consumers for higher welfare eggs.
The memorandum is strengthened by the participation of the Slovak Confederation of Commerce which ensures that, even after the changes in production are implemented, Slovak retailers will show a preference to Slovak eggs, allowing consumers to have access to higher welfare and better quality products whilst the Slovak poultry industry maintains their sovereignty against imports of eggs from other countries.
A strong paradigm to follow
We fully welcome this move, which is the result of the hard campaigning work of Humánny Pokrok (Humane Progress) and Sloboda Zvierat (Animal Freedom), members of our End the Cage Age European Citizens' Initiative Network. It marks an important step further towards the welfare of laying hens in Slovakia, while also setting a very strong precedent across the European Union. One which we would urge other countries to follow.
Developments like this prove that increased social pressure at a national and European level, can indeed drive change in policy.
“We are excited about the Slovak memorandum. It’s great news to see the Ministry of Agriculture working together with producers and retailers not only to ban the use of cages but also to ensure that higher welfare eggs are the first preference and first choice for Slovak retailers and Slovak consumers respectively” said Romana Šonková, our Representative in the Czech Republic.
“We now expect more European countries and the European Commission to follow this paradigm, and do what is right for consumers and farm animals, without delay”.
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