The European Parliament overwhelmingly calls for a gradual end to cage farming. MEPs have backed the demand for a European citizens’ initiative that was launched in September 2018. The petition gathered nearly 1.4 million signatures in at least 18 member states in support of animal welfare.
“We have estimated, and this is a very conservative figure, that more than 300 million animals, farm animals, spend most of their lives or their entire lives in cages in Europe, every year”, points out Olga Kikou, promoter of the initiative and member of World Farming EU.
Producers are following this debate with interest and some suspicion. A possible abolition would require a review of the structure of the farms.“These investments can easily mean hundreds of thousands of euros and even millions of euros. So we are not talking from a private individual’s point of view, we are talking about a large investment that simply cannot be decided unilaterally. This has a lot to do with the bank manager who is actually making the decision, what he can do and what he cannot do. “, explains Pekka Pesonen, general secretary of COPA-COGECA.
The organization representing farmers, COPA-COGECA, wants to collaborate with the European institutions. But feel that you do not get answers to certain questions such as the length of the transition period or the size of financial aid. COPA-COGECA believes that the demand is too imprecise and does not take into account the specificities of each farm and each region. “It is done in southern Europe probably not the same as northern Europe. In my native Finland we have temperatures of minus 30 degrees. So it is obvious to all of us that the animals have to be in an enclosure to protect them of the elements. These adaptations, sectoral and specific to the conditions of each farm are totally absent from the initiative”, cree Pesonen.
Copa-Cogeca points out that the disappearance of cages in the agricultural sector could lead to a increase in production costs that could lead to a risk of loss of competitiveness for European producers. Activists for animal rights respond that this initiative is part of the European strategy “From farm to table”.
“By eliminating cage farming, we hope to move towards more sustainable animal agriculture. And last but not least, we are absolutely confident that eliminating cage farming is very much in line with the farm-to-table strategy endorsed by this Commission“, Kikou details.
MEPs call on the Commission to carry out an evaluation study and a transition period for a possible implementation in 2027.