As COVID-19 has shown all too clearly, diseases can jump to humans from other animals. In fact, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals.1
So, how we treat wild and farmed animals isn't just critically important to their wellbeing. It is crucial to human health.
Breeding grounds for disease
Factory farming already plays a devastating part in 'hidden' human pandemics. It helps to fuel poor diets that contribute to coronary heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.2 It is also a major cause of air pollution: if global agricultural emissions were halved, up to 250,000 air pollution-related deaths could be prevented, every year.3
Crucially, there is also a wealth of evidence that the stressful, crowded conditions on factory farms help drive the emergence and spread of dangerous, infectious diseases.
[There is] strong evidence that the way meat is produced, not only in China, contributed to COVID-19.
− Virginijus Sinkevicius, EU Environment Commissioner4
Trade and animal welfare
UK trade agreements could seriously impact animal welfare.
Here, you can find out the latest situation, what is at stake, and what we are doing to help protect farm animal welfare in the UK.
Firstly, a huge thank you to the amazing number of people who have already signed our open letter to the Prime Minister, calling for him to protect animal welfare in trade deals. If you haven’t already done so, please join over 50,000 compassionate supporters urging the Government to stop cruel trade deals.
Why is trade being discussed now?
As the UK leaves the European Union (EU), it will be able to set its own trade policy for the first time in almost 50 years – previously trade policy has been set by the EU, as a result of the UK being a Member State.
Setting trade policy includes determining the rules on what food products can be imported into the UK. Whilst the UK’s farming standards could certainly be improved, they are higher than most other countries (aside from those within the EU, because the majority of our farm animal welfare rules derive from EU Regulations and Directives).
What are the choices facing the UK?
The UK has a considerable body of legislation on the welfare of farm animals. Many of the countries the UK is seeking an FTA with do not – in some cases, regarding farm animals, there is almost none!
As the end of the EU transition period approaches, the UK is faced with two choices. HM Government could opt to maintain existing standards and requirements that need to be met for certain products to be permitted into the UK – an option that would leave open the possibility of further improving our domestic animal welfare legislation. Or the UK could opt to lower the bar on the products allowed onto our supermarket shelves, ultimately entering us into a race to the bottom where we seek to compete on who can produce at the lowest price.
This decision alone will have a bigger impact on the UK’s standards of animal welfare, food safety or environmental protection than any other single policy area – and the ramifications could be felt for decades to come: it will impact upon both the food UK citizens may end up eating as well as having a knock-on effect on the livelihoods of higher-welfare farmers within the UK.
How far have trade talks progressed with our major trading partners?
The UK is currently in the transition period of leaving the EU – this is set to end on 31st December 2020. From that date, a new trading relationship will come into effect with the EU and all other countries.
HM Government is in the process of negotiating that new relationship with the EU. A number of rounds have already taken place and discussions are ongoing despite the failure to reach agreement on a number of issues – particularly the ‘level playing field’ and fisheries.
FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS
Alongside the EU talks, several other Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are being negotiated. One of the priorities for the UK Government is securing an FTA with the USA. Talks take place every six weeks, with each round lasting two weeks. These are only likely to conclude well into 2021, once the implications of the November US elections have become clear.
Negotiations are also ongoing with countries including Australia and New Zealand.
We are concerned that the deal with Australia, where hormone-treated beef and battery eggs are still common, may involve concessions that may then form a precedent for the US talks. It is vital that the Australian deal does not act as a Trojan horse for undermining our higher standards in the potentially much larger US FTA.
A deal with Japan has been concluded, although still needs to pass through the Japanese Diet (Parliament).
Is Northern Ireland a special case?
Yes. If the talks with the EU maintain the Northern Ireland Protocol, then Northern Ireland will remain subject to European Union trading rules, and therefore probably outside any other arrangements that are made for Britain, although details of how this will work remain to be clarified.
What is happening in Parliament?
In addition to the FTAs being negotiated by the UK Government, a number of Bills that will impact upon farming standards in the UK are going through Parliament. Most notably, the Agriculture Bill and the Trade Bill. Both these Bills could have serious implications for farm animal welfare.
The Agriculture Bill seeks to replace the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) area-based subsidy scheme with payments for farmers who deliver on areas such as animal welfare and the environment – a shift in priorities welcomed by Compassion.
But there is a major risk that the improvements the Bill could bring in are entirely undermined by the trade deals the UK secures. Compassion, alongside a wide range of NGO and industry bodies, and MPs from all parties, have been calling for the Bill to protect our existing standards and prevent imports that do not meet them.
The Agriculture Bill has completed its normal House of Commons and House of Lords stages and is now going through the process known as 'ping pong'. One of the issues that is being debated between both Houses is that of which food imports will be of an acceptable standard to be included in a FTA. Despite an amendment, tabled by the Environment Select Committee, to protect against low-standard imports, the Government insist these measures are unnecessary and that we already have those protections in place.
That amendment was defeated in the Commons, before a similar amendment was adopted by the Lords. That amendment was also rejected by the Commons, despite being supported by MPs from all sides of the House. The House of Lords has, yet again, inserted an amendment on food import standards – this one requiring an import to be of an ‘equivalent’ standard (meaning equivalent in effectiveness, rather than of an identical standard).
This amendment was defeated in the House of Commons in favour of a Government amendment. That amendment offered Parliament a modest increase in the scrutiny of trade agreements. Whilst this is a step in the right direction, it is not the same safeguard as a legal protection that prohibits the imports of products not raised to our standards. Indeed, it suggests the Government can permit those imports and then merely submit a report to Parliament as to why it has chosen to do so.
However, there was some progress in terms of the Government placing the Trade and Agriculture Commission on a statutory footing (to be reviewed every three years), rather than the six months originally envisaged. We await the details of that, as it will be enacted through the Trade Bill rather than the Agricultural Bill. We hope that it will involve a broader membership of civil society groups – particularly in the areas of animal welfare, food and environment – compared to the narrow membership it has now of farming bodies.
The amendment to the Agriculture Bill will go back to the House of Lords on Monday (9 Nov). We’ll be monitoring the situation and are also looking towards the Trade Bill for further details of the TAC when that returns to the House of Lords later this month. We’re continuing to engage Parliamentarians to ensure that we have strong protections in place.
The Trade Bill, which focuses more on rolling over FTAs that the UK is party to because of EU membership and the establishment of the TAC, also offers the opportunity to secure protections against lower standard imports. It would potentially ensure that Parliament is fully involved in setting out the negotiating position, scrutinising and then ratifying FTAs. Again, something that has broad cross-sectoral support but has been opposed by Government.
What is the UK Government's position?
The Government has said that we will not see our animal welfare standards diluted as we leave the EU - indeed, when Michael Gove was Defra Secretary, he committed us to being a global leader on animal welfare. And the 2019 Conservative Manifesto stated that, “In all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards,” a commitment that was most welcome.
However, as things stand, the FTAs we strike with 3rd parties pose a serious threat to that commitment to uphold our standards and we feel the Bills going through Parliament do not contain sufficient protections for the UK’s higher welfare farmers or our animal welfare standards.
The UK Government has proposed using ‘dual tariffs’ to resolve this issue. Tariffs are effectively ‘taxes’ that are placed on goods entering our market. The Government’s proposal would involve charging a higher rate for products entering the UK that do not meet our standards, and a lower rate for those that do. Whilst this is a step in the right direction, tariffs should be one of a host of mechanisms used to protect our standards – in addition to import bans – not the only one.
A significant concern is that these tariffs would merely become a starting point for any trade negotiations (with the USA or others), rather than an end point – once the principle has been accepted that low-welfare, low-quality food can be imported, even with a high tariff, there will be steady pressure to reduce the tariff over time. The solution to that situation would be legislation that prevents certain products being imported under the terms of any FTA in the first place – something that the defeated amendment to the Agriculture Bill sought to achieve.
What is Compassion calling for?
When negotiating trade agreements, the UK must not permit the import of meat, eggs and dairy products that are produced to lower animal welfare standards than those of the UK.
The UK has a considerable body of legislation on the welfare of farm animals. Many of the countries the UK is seeking an FTA with do not – in some cases, regarding farm animals, there is almost none!
The UK should resist calls for regulatory coherence with countries which have lower welfare standards. How does one do that when there are no regulations to align with? If the UK were to seek a level playing field with lower standard nations, it will make it very difficult for the UK to adopt good new legislation on farm animal welfare and may well create pressure on the UK to dilute its existing standards.
To avert this danger, the UK must insist on the inclusion of a clause in these FTAs permitting it to require imports to meet UK animal welfare standards. Such proposals are likely to meet with resistance – particularly by the US negotiators.
The overall impact of any FTA that the UK ratifies should not be that it makes it more difficult for the UK to improve its animal welfare standards – and certainly should not create a downward pressure on existing UK standards.
Furthermore, there is very little scrutiny of trade negotiations – something the Trade Bill could and should address. This is particularly the case when it comes to setting tariffs: parliamentarians have no mechanism to challenge the tariffs that the executive lodge with the WTO (or amendments by the Government to existing tariffs). So, over a period of time, the Government could choose to gradually reduce these tariffs – potentially to zero. This, of course, would then offer no protection against low standard imports whatsoever.
If the UK were to go down the tariff route, the challenge would be:
- making sure that any tariff is sufficiently high to effectively keep a given product permanently off the supermarket shelves
- ensuring that tariff isn’t removed as part of any FTA.
The Government should legislate to protect UK standards, through amendments to several Bills currently going through Parliament (such as the Agriculture Bill and the Trade Bill). It should also make clear that it will treat any request for access for lower standard imports to the UK as a red line that is not going to be crossed in any trade agreement.
What has Compassion done so far?
Earlier this year, Compassion representatives gave evidence to the Agriculture Bill Committee and the Environment Select Committee on the animal welfare implications of the Agriculture Bill. These sessions also examined the potential impact of trade agreements on the standard of imported foods.
Following these evidence sessions and many discussions with individual MPs, several important amendments were tabled to the Bill. Most importantly, on the issue of trade, amendments were tabled that aimed to prohibit imports that don’t meet our standards: if adopted, these amendments would have helped to prevent higher welfare British farming being undermined by poor trade deals, and it gained strong cross-party support. This included New Clause 2 to the Agriculture Bill, in the name of the Environment Select Committee.
277 MPs voted for the amendment, including 22 Conservative politicians who defied the Whip and rebelled against the Government by joining with their opposition colleagues to vote for much-needed protections.
Unfortunately, the amendment was defeated. The House of Lords voted by a majority of 95 to protect standards in trade deals, but this was defeated in the Commons (14 Conservative MPs rebelled against the Government and backed the Lords amendment on that occasion). The most recent vote in the Lords was won by a majority of 38, again with cross-party support. The Government amendment passed in the Commons by a majority of 59, with just 6 rebels on the Conservative benches.
OUR FIGHT CONTINUES
In addition to the ‘public’ lobbying of Committees, we have also sent multiple briefings at the various stages of the debates / Bills progress through Parliament, and had a number of meetings with MPs from all parties.
We are continuing to work hard for the amendments to be secured in the Bill and are in touch with a range of Peers on all sides of the House about this.
Last year we secured a similar change to the Trade Bill that would have replicated trade deals the UK had, through EU membership, with countries such as Canada, Switzerland and South Korea. However, because of the general election, this Bill did not become law. A new Trade Bill has now been published and we are once more demanding that it requires imports to meet UK welfare standards.
Supporting all of this has been Compassion’s dedicated army of supporters, who sent supporter emails to their MPs. Over 18,000 emails were sent to MPs about the Agriculture Bill, and a further 17,000 emails to MPs on the issue of animal welfare standards in trade deals.
Compassion will continue to lobby MPs on this issue in the coming months – particularly when the Agriculture Bill returns to the Commons in due course.
If you haven't already done so, you can also sign our open letter to the UK Government to help preserve British farming standards.
What animal welfare issues of concern are likely to arise in a UK-US FTA?
The concerns about the import of hormone-treated beef are well known. The problems of US beef are not confined to the use of growth-promoting hormones. US cattle are usually kept in feedlots for the last few months of their lives. Feedlots contain thousands of cattle kept in crowded, often dirty conditions. Hormone-treated beef from US feedlots will undercut UK pasture-based beef farmers on price.
Ractopamine is a beta agonist feed additive used to promote growth in pigs. Its use is permitted in the US but prohibited in the UK. There is evidence that it has a detrimental impact on pig welfare; the Humane Society of the US states that it “causes death, lameness, stiffness, trembling and shortness of breath in farm animals”.¹
Pork imported from the US is likely to come from herds where sows are confined in narrow stalls during pregnancy. The use of sow stalls has been illegal in the UK since 1999 due to concerns about animal welfare.
BST (bovine somatotropin) is a genetically engineered lactation-promoting hormone that is injected into cows in the US to increase milk yields. The use of BST is prohibited in the UK on animal welfare grounds. Imported US dairy products from BST-treated cows would undercut UK farmers on price.
Chicken, meat, and egg products
The import of chicken washed in chlorine or other chemical disinfectants has rightly caused concern, as an ‘end of pipe’ treatment to mask unhygienic conditions in production, slaughter and processing.
Whilst the use of barren battery cages is banned in the UK, they are used in most US States. In the UK 21% of eggs are used as ingredients in various products often in the form of whole egg powder. Fresh eggs are unlikely to be imported from the US. At present egg powder imports are discouraged by high tariffs, but the US is likely to oppose the inclusion of such tariffs in a trade agreement. This may well result in egg powder coming into the UK from hens kept in battery cages in the US. This would undermine UK egg producers who would find demand for their egg powder being replaced by US imports.
Antibiotics are given to farm animals at much higher levels in the USA than in the UK. In terms of mg of active ingredient of antibiotic use per tonne of livestock unit (PCU):²
- total antibiotic use in US farm animals is more than 5 times higher than in UK farm animals
- antibiotic use in US cattle use is about 8–9 times as high as use in UK cattle
- antibiotic use in US pigs is more than twice as high as use in UK pigs
- antibiotic use in US chickens is more than twice as high as use in UK chickens
- antibiotic use in US turkeys is about 9 times as high as use in UK turkeys.
The US is likely to press for the inclusion of a clause in any agreement with the UK intended to align regulatory standards related to the farming, transport and slaughter of animals.
This would be worrying. US regulations on farm animal welfare are generally substantially lower than those of the UK. Indeed, the US has no federal regulations at all in many of the areas in which the UK has detailed regulations. There is no federal US legislation governing the welfare of animals while they are on the farm. There are federal provisions on slaughter (although this legislation does not cover poultry, and is much less detailed than UK legislation), and on transport (which is also much less detailed and demanding than UK legislation).
The UK has banned barren battery cages, sow stalls and veal crates. There is no US federal ban on these systems, although 12 states have prohibited one or all of these systems.
In light of all these threats, Compassion believes it is vital for UK law to require trade deals to include a clause that allows the UK to decline to accept imports of food that has not been produced to UK standards
Thank you to over 50,000 people who have already signed our open letter to the Prime Minister, urging him to protect animal welfare in trade deals.
If you haven’t already done so, please add your name today.
- Briefing on the proposed US-UK Trade talks, Compassion in World Farming
- Agriculture Bill Briefing, Compassion in World Farming
- Trade Bill Briefing, Compassion in World Farming
- UK-EU FTA Briefing, Eurogroup for Animals UK-EU Taskforce
- UK-US FTA Briefing, Eurogroup for Animals UK EU Taskforce
- UK Trade Policy Briefing, Eurogroup for Animals UK EU Taskforce
¹http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2014/11/ractopamine-drug-challenged-110514.html Accessed 18 March 2017
²“US livestock receive more than five times as many antibiotics as British livestock”, Alliance to Save our Antibiotics, May 2020:
2019 General Election
On 12th December 2019, the UK went to the polls to elect a new Government. Compassion sent a letter to the leaders of all political parties, calling on them to introduce and support policies that would:
- Ban UK live exports for fattening and slaughter
- Ban the use of cages for all UK farm animals
- Protect British farming against low-welfare imports, such as chlorine-washed chicken and beef from hormone-fed cows
- Reform subsidy systems to support higher welfare farmers
- Ban the routine preventative use of antibiotics that props up cruel factory farming
- Introduce mandatory method of production labelling for all UK meat and dairy products
- Introduce a UK law that recognises that animals can suffer and feel pain
What are the parties saying?
In the table below, we have highlighted the commitments each party across the UK made in its manifesto to improve animal welfare.
We are neutral in party politics, but committed to keeping supporters informed about what each party has promised for animal welfare – the manifesto sets out the commitment of each party until the next election is called.
We have analysed the manifestos, and you can find our detailed assessments below (in alphabetical order by party name). We have not taken into account any past statements which have not made it into the manifestos and associated documents.
For easy reference, here is an overview of what the main UK-wide parties have committed to doing for farm animals. Where a commitment covers part of our proposals or makes closely-related statements without explicitly promising them, we are recording it as “Probably” or “Partly”, as appropriate.
In addition to these parties, the policies of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Parties are discussed in a separate section below.
|Brexit Party||Conservative||Green||Labour||Liberal Democrats|
|End Live Exports||No||Probably1||Yes||Yes||No|
|Prevent Low Welfare Imports||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Subsidies For Welfare||No||Yes||Probably4||Yes||Probably3|
|Ban Routine Antibiotics||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|Method of Production Labelling||No||No||Yes||No||No|
1. “End excessively long journeys”
2. Caged hens banned, no reference to farrowing crates
3. Promote a range of environmental subsidies, welfare not mentioned
4. Promote more sustainable farming methods, welfare not mentioned
How to oppose factory farming proposals
HELP FIGHT FACTORY FARMING IN YOUR AREA
In order to end factory farming, we need people all over the UK to take the fight to their communities by objecting to new proposals for factory farms.
Countless reports show the detrimental impacts of factory farming on animal welfare, human health, rural livelihoods and the environment. This cannot be the future of British farming.
You have the power to speak out. Read on to find out how you can object to an intensive farming proposal in your area.
FIND PLANNING APPLICATIONS NEAR YOU
When a developer chooses to build a new intensive farm near you, they first need to submit a planning application to your local council.
You can find planning applications on your local council's website by looking up your council's name along with “planning applications” on a search engine.
In some cases, when the Compassion team becomes aware of a factory farm proposal, we call on supporters to join us in raising an objection. So be sure to sign up to our email alerts to find out if we’re objecting to a proposal near you!
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OBJECTION
Sending Your Objection Online
If you find a planning application for an intensive farm on your council's website, you should be able to submit an objection. In most cases, you'll need to click on the 'Comment' tab of the planning application web page. Some councils might then ask you to register for an account in order to submit a comment.
The 'Comment' tab should also contain detailed advice on what to say – for example, you might need to include the word 'object' or 'objection' in your comment. Be sure to check these guidelines, so you can submit your objection with confidence.
Sending Your Objection By Post
If you prefer, you can usually send a written objection directly to your council – make sure you include the application’s reference number. You can get in touch with your council for advice on submitting an objection by post.
Sometimes, the closing date for objections might not be clear on the website. In some cases, the council may even extend the deadline but not update the website. If in doubt, try contacting the council – you can ask to be put through to the department that deals with planning applications.
WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR OBJECTION
Your objection must relate to the specific application and be based on relevant planning matters, which may include:
- Impact on parking, traffic and road safety.
- Noise and disturbance to local residents.
- Environmental pollution, such as ammonia released by decomposing manure.
- The scale of the farm and the intensive system used.
- The preventative use of antibiotics.
Animal welfare does not usually fall in the criteria for planning applications – unless there is a breach of the law. However, please do mention your welfare concerns in your objection.
You can read an example of one of our formal objections for further guidance.
It’s vital that councillors understand the strength of opposition among residents to the invasion of factory farming into local towns and the countryside. Be sure to spread the word among your friends, family and local community and encourage them to send in their own objections to the application.
You can find out more about the detrimental impacts of factory farming – for animals, humans, and the environment – in our Beyond Factory Farming and Eating the Planet reports. A wide range of free reports and briefings on specific topics are available in our Research section.
You can also find out how many indoor livestock are currently reared in your local county using our interactive map.
LET US KNOW HOW YOU GET ON
If you take action to oppose a factory farm near you, we'd love to hear what happens! Please let us know by contacting our Supporter Engagement Team.
Are you choosing Happy Chickens?
Compassion in World Farming believes that suffering at slaughter can be avoided, provided certain basic principles are met:
- The transport and handling of the animal prior to slaughter minimises stress
- Death is instantaneous, or
- The animal is instantaneously stunned and remains unconscious until dead
- The method of inducing unconsciousness and death is not in itself likely to cause stress
The law requires animals in the EU to be effectively stunned before slaughter. However, exceptions are made which permit some religious communities to slaughter without pre-stunning. This applies to slaughter by the Jewish method (Shechita) or by the Muslim method (Halal).
Compassion believes there should be no exemptions, and the law should be changed to require all animals to be effectively stunned before slaughter, regardless of the slaughter method that is then used (this also applies to mis-stunning in conventional abattoirs). We also believe that all slaughterhouses should have CCTV installed in order to assist with the monitoring of slaughter and to help prevent cruelty.
Welfare concerns in the EU
Loop-holes, poor enforcement, and a lack of suitable legislations can all impact the welfare of animals at the time of slaughter. There are a range of serious welfare concerns currently affecting vast numbers of animals across Europe.
- Derogations to EU law allow animals to be slaughtered without pre-stunning for consumption by the Jewish and Muslim community. Slaughter without effective pre-stunning causes unacceptable suffering.
- In the EU around 1 billion chickens a year are ineffectively stunned prior to slaughter. They experience an agonising electric shock that fails to properly stun them followed by the full pain and fear of being slaughtered while fully conscious.
- It is becoming increasingly common across Europe to use high concentrations of CO2 gas to make pigs unconscious prior to slaughter. CO2 gas results in a burning and then drowning-like sensation and can cause around 15-30 seconds of very severe suffering prior to the pigs losing consciousness.
- Every year over 2 million animals are exported live out of the EU. They are sent to countries where they receive no legal protection at the time of slaughter. Many face agonising, drawn out slaughter.
- Roughly 1 billion fish are farmed and slaughtered in the EU each year. Most are slaughtered in ways that are inhumane and illegal. EU law requires fish to be spared avoidable suffering at slaughter. The technology exists to make fish unconscious prior to slaughter, but instead the vast majority are left to suffocate or killed while fully conscious in ways that cause immense suffering.
- It has become apparent that huge numbers of animals in the EU – roughly 18% of all sheep, and 27% of all goats – are not killed in official slaughter houses. This means that their slaughter goes entirely unregulated, and much of this is likely to be inhumane.
For too long, large numbers of animals in Britain have been killed in a way that causes immense suffering - but which is within the law. Although some progress has been made - such as the Government's introduction of legislation requiring CCTV in all slaughterhouses in England - it is essential that UK decision makers introduce mandatory method of slaughter labelling and, ultimately, prevent all non-stun slaughter. Email your MP now.
EXPOSING FACTORY FARMING
Undercover investigations can provide powerful evidence of the inherent cruelty of factory farming. Since 1996, Compassion has produced and, more recently, commissioned many high-impact investigations. The brave people involved in such projects often work covertly to get the real story, obtaining images that are often harrowing – but that is the dismal reality of factory farming.
The widespread press coverage that many of these investigations has generated has helped to raise crucial public awareness of the devastating impact that intensive farming has on animal welfare. These investigations can also strengthen our calls to decision makers for change, by providing compelling visual evidence of the cruelty of factory farming.
Follow the links below to discover the many investigations Compassion has produced and commissioned over the past two decades, starting with some of our most recent examples. Please be aware - you may find some of the footage distressing.
Help us end cruel food
1 million birds die each year
Compassion believes that no animal should suffer for food production. A European Council Directive states: “No animal shall be provided with food or liquid in a manner... which may cause unnecessary suffering or injury”. Yet around one million birds die during this cruel feeding process every single year. Many countries have banned the force feeding of animals for foie gras. But the suffering goes on. Annually more than 19,000 tonnes of foie gras are being produced in France alone.
What is Compassion doing?
Compassion is working to get Foie Gras Production banned across Europe by lobbying member states and the European Commission. We have also taken specific action against new Foie Gras facilities that are being developed. Check out the timeline below for more information
What can I do?
- If you know of a retailer or restaurant selling Foie Gras, ask them to re-consider. Please contact us for ‘fairer food’ cards to leave with food business managers.
- Campaign with us for improved welfare for all farmed animals.
Foie gras farms are temporarily closed in France70,911 people send an e-card to French Agriculture Minister, urging continued shutdown of French Foie Gras industry following national closure caused by disease outbreak.
Compassion takes part in an event at the EU Parliament opposing foie gras productionCompassion’s Olga Kikou speaks about the animal welfare problem and the potential illegalities of foie gras production.
Cloning = Cruelty
The case against cloning
The aim of cloning farm animals is to produce replicas of the animals with the highest economic value, for example the fastest-growing pigs or the highest-yielding dairy cows. However the process of cloning itself causes animal suffering and the animals with the highest economic value are prone to developing severe health problems – pushed to their physical limits, they are condemned to a lifetime of suffering.
The Cloning = Cruelty campaign highlights the intrinsic animal welfare issues of selective breeding in animals for food – i.e. meat and dairy. Research also shows that many cloned farm animals are born with deformed organs and live short and miserable lives.
Animals involved in the cloning process suffer
The cloning of farm animals can involve great suffering. A cloned embryo has to be implanted into a surrogate mother who carries it to birth. Cloned embryos tend to be large and can result in painful births that are often carried out by Caesarean section. Many clones die during pregnancy or birth. Of those that survive, a significant proportion die in the early days and weeks of life from problems such as heart, liver and kidney failure.
The political situation
On 8th September MEPs will take a vote on whether to ban the cloning of farm animals in Europe. Please send a message to your MEPs to ask that they vote in support of a ban on cloning. The future of farm animals in Europe may depend on it.
What is Compassion doing?
Compassion will continue, with its European partners, to fight the introduction of cloning animals for food.
- Compassion is calling on Members of the European Parliament to vote in favour of a ban on cloning animals in Europe on 8th September 2015. Write to your MEPs and ask them to make the EU a no clone zone.
- With World Animal Protection, we have produced an independent report on the welfare implications of cloning. The full report and a four-page summary with policy recommendations are available to download.
Video diary of our Cameron Clones march to Downing Street
Hundreds of millions of pigs around the world are kept in factory farms. Just under 1 billion animals in the world today are pigs. Over 500 million of these pigs live in industrialised systems, known as factory farms. Being kept in such intensive conditions has severe health and welfare implications for the animals involved.
Compassion in World Farming has campaigned for many years to ensure higher welfare standards for pigs. During this time we have seen vital steps forward, including the recognition of animals as sentient beings within the EU (Lisbon Treaty, 2009), and the passage of legislation such as Council Directive 2008/120/EC laying down minimum standards for the protection of pigs.
What we are doing: Project Pig
Getting sows out of stalls
Project Pig is Compassion’s campaign to build on the legislative advances made within the EU, with specific regard to enforcing the Pigs Directive across Europe. Our initial emphasis was on the 2013 Sow Stall Ban, and Project Pig lobbied DEFRA, the European Commission, the European Parliament and EU Agriculture Ministers to stop some of the routine abuses of pig welfare and seek to ensure that all nations were fully compliant with the Sow Stall ban when it came into force on 1st Jan 2013. A number of countries continue to be non-compliant on this ban.
Enforcing European pig welfare law
We also monitor and make formal complaints to the European Commission regarding breaches of the Pigs Directive by EU countries which can result in these countries being taken to the European Court. In February 2013 the European Commission began infraction proceedings against 9 EU Member States for failing to be compliant with the ban. By January 2014 this number had fallen to 6 non-compliant Member States.
Between March 2013 and March 2014, 475,576 people signed our petition calling on every EU Agriculture Minister to ensure that their country complies fully with the EU Pigs Directive.
Over the coming years we will continue to press for 100% compliance with the sow stall ban whilst also seeking to ensure a reduction in routine tail docking of pigs produced in the EU, enforcement of the requirement regarding the provision of enrichment materials, and for the Commission to agree to full transparency on compliance levels with the Pigs Directive.
Croatia joins the EUCroatia's level of Compliance with the Sow Stall ban is unknown (but presumed to not be fully compliant).
Nine nations not compliant with sow stall banEuropean Commission begins infraction proceedings against nine nations not compliant with sow stall ban
EU sow stall ban takes effectUse of sow stalls following the first four weeks of pregnancy banned in all 27 EU Member States
EU Lisbon TreatyAnimals continue to be recognised as sentient beings in EU Lisbon Treaty
Report shows routine tail docking continuesEFSA Report states that over 90% of pigs in the EU are tail-docked despite the practice of docking tails routinely having been illegal since 2003
Routine tail docking banned in the EU
EU sow stall banEU follows the example set by the UK (and Sweden and Luxembourg) and agrees a ban on sow stalls
UK sow stall banUK bans sow stalls after campaign by Compassion in World Farming
Animals recognised as sentient beings in EU law
Cows Belong in Fields. That is the simple premise behind Compassion in World Farming’s dairy campaign. And we are working to ensure that all cows have access to fields and pasture rather than being permanently housed with thousands of other cows, confined in giant sheds and milked three times a day - as they would potentially be in mega-dairies.
Our work on dairy cows is two-fold: within the European Union (EU) we seek to secure policy changes that will improve the welfare of all the EU’s dairy cows. In the UK we are working to ensure that all UK cows have pasture access and we peacefully oppose mega dairy applications.
What we are doing
Dairy truth: EU dairy investigation
Compassion in World Farming has long called for Europe’s cows to be given the same species specific protection that is afforded other EU farm animals, such as pigs and hens. In the Summer of 2012, Compassion in World Farming’s investigation team went undercover in over 50 farms in Germany, Denmark and Spain to highlight the welfare problems faced by Europe’s cows. Some of the footage is shocking, and it is not limited to just those three countries but a problem across many European nations.
- Find out more about the investigation, and read eyewitness accounts.
- Watch the film and take action to protect our dairy cows.
The need for European legislation
As part of this work to improve dairy cow welfare, Compassion formed a coalition with ice cream producers Ben and Jerry’s (a winner of Compassion’s Good Dairy Award) and The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) in 2012 to work, under the banner of Supporting Better Dairy.
Our ask: that the European Commission introduce an EU Dairy Cow Welfare Directive that will aim to protect the welfare of over 23m dairy cows. By ensuring:
- Good Housing
- Good Feeding
- Good Health
- Cows being able to express their natural behaviours
In October 2013, a petition containing almost 300,000 names was handed to the European Commission to demand the urgent introduction of legislation to protect the welfare of dairy cows. You can read more about this event here.
The campaign for pasture access and against mega-dairies
‘Cows belong in Fields’ was the name of our campaign against Nocton Dairies – the UK’s first proposed mega-dairy. The simple premise of the campaign was so successful that we have now adopted the ‘Cows Belong in Fields’ name for our entire UK dairy campaign. Wherever possible we oppose mega dairy applications and we continue to work to ensure that all cows have access to pasture.Error loading Partial View script (file: ~/Views/MacroPartials/InsertCallToActionButton.cshtml)
Compassion in World Farming believe that all cows should have access to pasture, at least during the grass growing season and during the rest of the year if the weather remains sufficiently dry.