On Thursday, June 10, the European Parliament approved a report petitioning the European Commission to end caged farming of animals. The report also called on the commission to find ways to phase out forced feeding of ducks and geese to produce foie gras. The petition asked the commission to propose legislation that will phase out the use of caged animal farming in the EU, possibly by 2027.
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The proposal has been necessitated by a citizen’s initiative that drew over 1.4 million signatures. The initiative seeks to have improved living standards for birds and other farm animals that are often kept in small cages. One of the major concerns raised by the initiative is the manner in which ducks and geese are handled. They termed the forced feeding of ducks and geese to fatten them for foie grass as a “cruel and unnecessary” practice.
Foie grass is a popular delicacy in France that has led to increased instances where farmers use cruel practices to fasten their ducks and geese into place, then force-feed them to fatten their livers. The parliament has requested the commission to have a review of current animal caging practices and issue a phase-out based on the needs of different animals.
“Acting to improve the welfare of animals is an ethical, social, and economic imperative,” EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said, as reported by Reuters.
Even with the public outcry to improve animal welfare in the EU, the region remains one of the leading in terms of animal welfare standards globally. There are existing restrictions on caged farming. Further, the EU has already banned tightly packed battery cages for hens. In 2012, legislation requiring all farmers to use furnished cages that provide more space for the animals.
But today, about 90% of the EU’s farmed rabbits are kept in cages. Further, about 50% of laying hens were kept in cages by 2019. In its report, the European Parliament noted that there are grave concerns about the conditions in farming cages where animals possibly lack space to stand fully.
To ensure a smooth transition from cage farming, the parliament has proposed that financial support should be provided to farmers to allow them to invest in better welfare standards. The report also calls for animal products imported to the EU to follow similar standards.
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