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NPA response to European legislative promise on farrowing crates

1st Jul 2021 / By Rebecca Veale

The NPA has issued its response to the European Commission's announcement on legislation to outlaw cages in farming. 

The European Commission has announced that they will table a legislative proposal by the end of 2023 which will lay out how they plan to phase out, and finally prohibit, the use of cage systems, including farrowing crates.

The announcement is in response to the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) “End the Cage Age” campaign which gathered over a million signatures from EU citizens in 2019.

The Commission has recognised such big changes on farm cannot be carried out without support and the new Common Agricultural Policy will provide both financial support and incentives to help EU farmers transition. Additional support will be available for Member States from other funds.

The Commission will also consider the socio-economic and environmental implications of the measures and the benefits to animal welfare in an impact assessment, expected to be completed before the end of 2022, whilst a public consultation is planned for early 2022. This work will be vital as the Commission have said they will assess the feasibility of working towards the proposed legislation entering into force from 2027 – which is a very short timeline.

They also noted that as part of the Farm to Fork Strategy the Commission has committed to propose a revision of the animal welfare legislation, including on transport and rearing, which is currently undergoing a fitness check and is expected to be finalised by the summer of 2022.

NPA comment:

“The announcement from the European Commission isn’t unexpected but we’re conscious that the proposed timelines are fairly short; the suggestion that legislation could be brought in as early as 2027 is particularly worrying.

“As part of Copa we’ve been working with other farming unions across Europe to put together a collective position on the impact of the potential phasing out of farrowing crates. This is an important lobbying tool because it provides rationale and evidence for support and a long transition period.

“We’ve also been looking at this policy in the context of GB and it is apparent that if we were to move away from conventional farrowing crates, an appropriate transition period and support mechanisms are essential. Any change like this has the potential to export production from the UK – an outcome neither we, our members nor the British public, would see as a step forward given the high standards of animal health, welfare and food safety achieved by British producers.”