MEPs want animal welfare upgrade for organic farming

The European Parliament’s current review of the rules governing organic farming needs to give “greater priority” to animal welfare issues, according to MEPs belonging to the parliament’s Animal Welfare Intergroup (AWI).

While declaring a “very supportive” position in relation to organic farming as a system that can benefit the welfare of animals, the AWI says it is necessary to ensure the removal of “several exceptions to animal welfare rules” which remain possible under current EU regulations on organic farming.

“The revision of EU organic legislation, which is currently being debated by the committee on agriculture, offers a good opportunity to improve and harmonise higher welfare rules,” said the group, adding that such action is “urgently needed” to support a fair and functional internal market and to ensure consumer confidence in organic animal products across the EU.

As a result, the AWI has called on the parliament’s committee of agriculture to look at several welfare issues. These include the following:

  • ensure appropriate outdoor access for all livestock and ban inappropriate exemptions that allow tethering of livestock,
  • end keeping methods that confine young calves and pregnant sows,
  • stop mutilations, including avoidable and painful pig castration, with mutilations only being carried out if truly needed for individual animals for health reasons and conducted with appropriate general anaesthesia and prolonged pain relief,
  • minimise duration of transport and optimise conditions of transport, with animals always being slaughtered as close as possible to their point of production.

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