The conference on the achievements of the EU strategy for the welfare of animals 2012-2015: mid-term review took place on 12 February 2014. For more information please follow the link.
Animal welfare has become increasingly regulated in recent years, including the bans on individual sow stalls 2013, conventional cages for laying hens 2012, and animal testing for cosmetics 2009, although it was not specifically included in the Food Information for Consumers Regulation1169/2011.
The achievements and challenges reviewed in the conference centred on four major themes: farming, transport and enforcement, food quality, education and training. The main findings from the conference generally concerned:
- EC should provide a forum for a dialogue between different stakeholders.
- Ensuring animal welfare was everyone's responsibility.
- Education was key for the consumers of tomorrow.
- Import/Export - Ensuring that imports into EU comply with requirements and promoting animal welfare in exports to non-EU countries. It was stated that EU provides a "gold standard" on welfare that should be promoted to other countries.
Commentary showed some juxtaposition of views in that the EU was reminded that "stockmanship" was as equally vital to welfare as systems and that any change to systems had a financial impact. It was important that the EU was not "disconnected" from this. The rest of the food chain and market must help farmers in bearing some of the costs of any welfare changes. However, equally it was stressed that good equipment equated to good welfare and certain innovations might not have a cost implication, if carefully managed, and would improve both welfare and the better understanding of the supply chain and quality assurance.
Of particular interest for food businesses was the importance being set on applying EU standards to imports and in promoting animal welfare in exports and the markets of non-EU countries.