EU agriculture MEPs call for a scientifically-sound update of animal welfare rules

EU animal welfare legislation needs an update and uniform application in all Member States
calendar icon 1 November 2021
clock icon 4 minute read
  • Clearer and more uniform EU animal welfare rules
  • Better financial incentives for affected farmers
  • EU animal welfare labelling system

The draft resolution on the implementation report on on-farm animal welfare rules, adopted by the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development on Tuesday by 36 votes to 5 and 7 abstentions, stresses that the current EU legislation on the welfare of food-producing animals is not consistently implemented across Member States, lags behind the scientific advances and establishes specific minimum welfare standards only for a number of species. MEPs, led by the rapporteur Jérémy Decerle (Renew, FR), call for science-based uniform rules oriented both on farmers and consumers.

Up-to-date legislation supporting farmers

The draft resolution calls for a future proof EU animals welfare rules that would be uniformly transposed in all Member States. It should be based on scientific data, impact assessments and a species by species approach, the text says.

Farmers must be provided with sufficient time, support and financing so that they can invest in better animal welfare. The update should also take into account EU farmers' income and competitiveness in the global agricultural market, according to the MEPs.

“Ending the Cage Age”

Agriculture MEPs welcome the European Citizens' Initiative “End the Cage Age” and urge to prohibit battery cages for laying hens. MEPs, however, want species based approach using clear definitions of a cage. Special financial support to transition to alternative housing system for animals should be provided to breeders impacted by the new standards.

Welfare labelling of animal products

Current voluntary and mostly private EU animal welfare labelling systems vary considerably. In order to provide consumers with reliable labelling of animal products on welfare-related aspects of their entire production cycle, agriculture MEPs advocate a voluntary EU animal labelling system covering all livestock farms. For the future, the possibility of a mandatory EU labelling should be examined, they say.

Next steps

The resolution on the implementation report on on-farm animal welfare now needs to be voted by the full house of the Parliament, possibly during the December session.

Sarah Mikesell


Sarah Mikesell grew up on a five-generation family farming operation in Ohio, USA, where her family still farms. She feels extraordinarily lucky to get to do what she loves - write about livestock and crop agriculture. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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