Could this year be the tipping point for farm animals in Europe? It’s already brought more legislative progress for Europe’s farm animals than the last decade combined: In January, the agricultural ministers of the two largest European nations, France and Germany, jointly pledged to ban the killing of day-old chicks by the end of next year. The French minister also pledged to ban the castration of piglets without pain relief, as Germany is already set to do. If implemented, the measures could spare 90 million day-old chicks from gassing, and 30 million piglets from castration, across the two nations every year. In May, the European Commission announced plans to revisit and revise its animal welfare directives for chickens, calves, pigs, and animals in transport and slaughter, by the end of 2023. This follows two decades of the Commission pursuing few new protections for farm animals, and could affect the welfare of over two billion animals/year. In July, the German Federal Council approved an eight year phase-out of sow stalls and a 15 year phase-out of most farrowing crates, along with $300 million to subsidize the transition. The move will spare about 1.5 million sows/year from extreme confinement, and is already building pressure on other European countries to follow suit. This month, the Czech Parliament voted to ban cages for the country’s five million caged hens; the Polish Parliament passed an overhaul of the nation’s animal protection law, including a ban on most fur farming; and the UK’s House of Lords voted to require food imported under future trade deals to meet UK animal welfare laws. If agreed to by the Czech and Polish Senates, and the UK House of Commons, these moves could establish critical precedents for the rest of Europe. So what’s going on, and how can advocates take advantage of this window of opportunity to push political change in Europe?
Bollard, L. (2020). Political Opportunities for Farm Animals in Europe. Farm Animal Welfare Newsletter, 25 September. https://www.openphilanthropy.org/farm-animal-welfare-newsletter-archive. Open Philanthropy, San Francisco, USA.