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New Animal Welfare Strategy Driven Forward

1 March 2012, at 10:48am

EU - Enhanced consumer empowerment and strengthening enforcement of existing rules is the main objective of a two-day international conference on the new EU animal welfare strategy that is taking place in Brussels on 29 February – 1 March.

Co-organised by the European Commission and the Danish Presidency of the EU, the high-level conference aims to drive forward an integrated approach to animal welfare.

Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner, John Dalli, said: "Ethical issues surrounding animal welfare are becoming an integral part of food quality. Consumers are increasingly factoring in welfare considerations into their purchases. Giving consumers access to the right information so that they can make informed choices will help drive our animal welfare policies forward. Informed consumers are empowered consumers. Dedicating resources to education and training as well as strengthening enforcement will deliver both in economic and in welfare terms."

Copa-Cogeca highlighted the need for farmers to be able to recover from the market their additional costs from having high EU animal welfare standards and to make consumers aware of this.

Speaking at the conference, Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen insisted: "We believe opportunities exist for a more market orientated animal welfare. But it is essential for farmers to be able to recover their additional costs from the market. This requires consumers being aware of their responsibilities and being willing to pay for additional welfare measures. EU farmers knowledge and efforts to ensure a high level of animal welfare must be recognized. More objective and effective communication is need to promote the EU model of agriculture."

Per Olsen, Chairman of the EU animal health and welfare working party meanwhile underlined the need for coherent EU policies which enable farms and businesses to remain economically viable whilst responding effectively to consumers' needs and wishes together with the new challenges such as growing demand for food, limited natural resources, the effects of climate change, the emergence and spread of new diseases and free market competition across EU Member States and non-EU countries. Copa-Cogeca calls on the EU Commission to develop the new strategy on animal welfare in a broader and more coherent EU policy framework which includes environmental, climate change, competition and trade policies.