Investment of public funds in intensive animal production

On 18/11/2013, in All posts, by Animal Welfare Intergroup

cage-free1On 13th November 2013, MEPs Sidonia Jędrzejewska (EPP), Karin Kadenbach (S&D) and Martin Häusling (Greens/EFA) hosted a lively panel discussion at the European Parliament on the issue of the . The discussion focused primarily on the investment policies of international finance institutions into livestock production outside of the European Union and its impact on animal welfare and EU farmers.

This event was inspired by a recent report produced by Humane Society International (HSI),  Four Paws and Compassion in World Farming. The report revealed how public money from some EU Member States is inconsistently being used to fund the development of agribusinesses in developing and transition countries that use inhumane housing systems, such as barren battery cages for laying hens, which have long been prohibited in the EU.

HSI’s Farm Animal Director, Dr. Chetana Mirle, was among the three panellists speaking at this event and presented the main findings of the report highlighting the impact of intensive confinement systems on animal welfare.

The second speaker, Thierry de l’Escaille, Secretary General of the European Landowners Organisation (ELO), gave the EU farmers’ perspective, underlining how the investment of public funds in agribusinesses in third countries, which use housing systems that have been phased-out and banned in the EU, can place EU producers at a competitive disadvantage.

Finally, Gilles Mettetal, Director of Agribusiness for the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), spoke about the bank’s investment policies. During the meeting, he gave his assurance that the bank is planning to adopt legally binding farm animal welfare standards, which meet or even exceed EU laws.


Humane Society International, Four Paws and Compassion in World Farming’s report found that international finance institutions, such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), have been granting investment capital to large-scale animal agribusiness companies in developing and transition countries (including China, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey) where animal welfare standards considerably fall short of EU standards.

In addition, it also revealed that Export Credit Agencies of EU countries have also been providing export insurances for the construction and equipment in agribusiness operations that do not meet the exporting countries’ own farm animal housing standards.

This means that public money of EU countries is used to support the establishment of housing systems in third countries that are outlawed in the EU. This merely transplants the objectionable and inhumane practices from the EU to developing or transition countries and may contribute to the competitive disadvantage of EU farmers who are required to meet higher animal welfare standards than the recipients of IFI agribusiness financing or the beneficiaries of export credit insurances.

The key recommendations of this report were:

  • To include animal welfare standards in the World Bank’s Safeguard Policies, the IFC’s   EHS Guidelines, and farm animal initiatives supported by the World Bank Group (i.e. the Global Agenda for Action for Sustainable Livestock Sector  Development).
  • The IFC should introduce a Performance Standard for Animal Welfare.
  • To support  the development of a progressive animal welfare policy by the EBRD with the introduction of binding animal welfare criteria, and stimulate similar processes within other regional development banks using public money.
  • To employ,  at minimum, EU farm animal welfare standards when evaluating potential IFI   investments in the farm animal sector.
  • In  order not to weaken the competitiveness of EU farmers, EU countries should  not grant no support granting any investment capital towards agribusiness operations outside the European Union, unless they meet EU standards for animal welfare.
  • Tie export credit insurances, at minimum, to the EU animal welfare standards.


The report can be downloaded here.



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