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Netherlands betters Britain on welfare

News Icon 21/06/2013

Britain once led the world on farm animal welfare. Well, that’s what I’m always being told: “highest standards of animal welfare in the world…”

If it ever did, not anymore; exciting news from the Netherlands shows how much we are falling behind our European colleagues.

First, an influential group of Dutch stakeholders made a declaration to the agricultural minister on the tail docking of pigs, complete with a report with details on how the Netherlands will end this unnecessary but widespread mutilation. Our Dutch branch was involved in discussions.

Although the declaration is not as strong as I would like, nevertheless, it is significant. Farmers and their unions recognise tail docking is unpopular with the public and should end. Measures like research, education, networking and support for more humane alternatives are practical steps that they intend to take to end this cruel practice.

Second, the Dutch agriculture minister wrote to parliament stating that beak trimming for all hens and turkeys will be banned in the Netherlands by 1 September 2018. The government will also ban the import of poultry with mutilations illegal in the Netherlands and urge the EU to ban beak trimming and poultry mutilations to ensure there is a level playing field in the market.

How are these two important developments in the Netherlands different from the situation here in the UK?

Taking beak trimming: The Dutch announcement of a ban on debeaking in 2018 is in sharp contrast to the continued indecisiveness of the UK government, which scrapped its 2011 ban and is still considering whether to reintroduce it after 2015.

Despite an EU ban on routine tail docking since 2003, the European Food Safety Authority found that around 90 per cent of EU piglets are tail docked. Around 240 million pigs are slaughtered each year in the EU. The vast majority are farmed industrially. Given Britain’s leadership in farm animal welfare, it’s a disgrace that our government hasn’t played a more prominent role in the EU to ensure its laws are enforced.

The Netherlands is to be congratulated. On both counts, these are measures that should be implemented fully by both the British government and the European Union.

Compassion in World Farming Netherlands played – and continues to play – a prominent role in these latest important accomplishments. Of course, none of our achievements for farmed animals would be possible without you. Thank you!

There remains a fundamental problem of EU laws on animal welfare not being properly enforced. Our undercover investigations repeatedly show some farmers across Europe breaking the law –animal welfare legislation that we all fought hard campaigns for.

One recent example is our investigation uncovering unacceptable and illegal conditions on 11 pig farms in Italy. Pigs are living in completely barren environments, being housed on bare concrete with nothing to satisfy their inquisitive minds. Their tails are routinely docked. Pigs were left sick or injured. On one farm, we saw a dead pig who had died from severe wounds caused by fighting. Most likely, these farms represent the massive Italian pig industry, which means up to 13 million Italian pigs endure illegal and inhumane conditions.

This is why Compassion has launched a new EU-wide petition. We call upon the agriculture ministers from all 27 EU member states demanding full enforcement of the Pigs Directive in every EU nation.

Please take action now by signing Compassion’s big pig petition!


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