Animal Welfare Emerging As Critical Issue For Agriculture

CANADA - "Animal welfare is no longer considered a sentimental issue" was a common view expressed by international speakers at the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC)'s "Farm Animal Care and Welfare" conference held in Ottawa recently.
calendar icon 26 October 2007
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John Webster of Bristol University, advised organic producers to promote and live up to their high standards of animal welfare. He, along with virtually every speaker referred to the importance of continuing research in animal welfare. He reported on research completed recently by the EU's "Welfare Quality Project". Surprisingly to some in the audience, RSPCA-certified dairy herds do not provide better welfare than conventional herds. Other studies concluded that perches are necessary for laying hens, and lameness in dairy cows occurs at a higher rate even than in battery-caged laying hens. Dr. Webster delivered a spirited, fast-paced and informative session, emphasizing that all animals are sentient beings with an innate capacity to suffer. He is also passionate that in order to improve animal welfare, farmers must be rewarded by society.

Current trends in Europe were outlined by Cornelius Rhein, - Animal Welfare Legislative Officer, European Commission. He said that according to a recent "Eurobarometer" survey, 43% of Europeans think about animal welfare when purchasing animal products, 51% believe that "animal-friendly" labeling is an indication of healthier food. European initiatives of late include banning the trade of dog and cat fur, and setting a maximum stocking density of 30 kg per square meter for live broiler chickens.

Dairy farmer, Jean-Marc Bèche explained that since the BSE crisis in France in the 1990's, the French dairy industry has been intent on recouping the confidence of consumers. Bèche presented promotional videos that feature average French dairy farmers talking about and interacting with their animals. The general perception by the French public is that management plays a big role in farm animal welfare, and therefore "conditionality" is in the mindset of consumers who are subsidizing animal welfare through their taxes.

Source: FarmFocus

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