Royal Decree Puts an End to Battery Cages

SPAIN - EU barren battery cage ban takes step forward with decree from Spain.
calendar icon 10 June 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

The Spanish government has issued a Royal Decree that could put it among the countries in Europe with the best chance of implementing the most important piece of animal welfare legislation ever in the EU, according to UK welfare campaigning organisation, Compassion in World Farming (CIWF).

Reacting to consistent pressure from animal welfare charities, including CIWF and its supporters, the government moved to make sure Spanish farmers are ready for the EU law banning the battery cage for laying hens, which will come into force in January 2012.

The Royal Decree, issued earlier this month by the Spanish government, obliges all farmers who still use battery cages for their laying hens to submit a plan explaining how they will change to so-called enriched cages or a barn or free-range system by January next year. It also asks them to highlight what, if any, financial help they may need to do this.

More than 16,000 emails have been sent by Compassion supporters to the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture this year, encouraging the government to make sure the egg farmers were prepared for the ban.

Michele Danan from CIWF congratulated the Spanish government for taking a step which should release up to 40 million hens from barren cages.

She said: "It is fantastic news that Spain has taken this big step towards making sure it obeys the new EU law in January. We want to thank the Spanish government for listening to its own and other EU citizens and for taking this important step in helping their farmers to be fully prepared for the ban on barren battery cages."

She added: "Sixty-four per cent of people in Spain say they would pay more for eggs produced by hens in higher welfare systems, so the public support is there. This is one of the most important pieces of animal welfare legislation to be introduced in the history of the EU and will make a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of millions of hens."

CIWF's 'Big Move' campaign will keep up the pressure on other member state governments and the Commission to ensure the law is observed when it comes into effect in 2012. Animal welfare groups across the EU, including Spain’s FAADA, have strongly encouraged their governments to make sure the eggs in their country are battery cage free.

There are still a small number of member states that are lagging behind and have not created an action plan to demonstrate how their farmers will comply with the ban. This includes Spain's neighbour to the north, France, as well as Greece and Italy. CIWF and its supporters are now stepping up the pressure to encourage them to follow Spain's example.

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