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Cattle-in-Evening-resize_smOrganic farming is one of a number of approaches to sustainable agriculture. It is broadly defined as a holistic production management system which tries to work with nature, promoting biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. In principle, organic farming also performs better than conventional farming in the area of animal welfare, devised to a large extent around the concept that animals should be able to live their lives as naturally as possible in a way that meets their biological and ethological needs.

Whilst the Animal Welfare Intergroup is very supportive of organic farming as a system that can benefit the welfare of animals, it is necessary to ensure that several exceptions to animal welfare rules that are possible in the current EU regulation on organic farming will be removed.

The on-going revision of EU organic legislation, which is currently being debated in the Committee on Agriculture with a draft report by Martin Häusling MEP (Greens/EFA, DE)  offers a good opportunity to improve and harmonize higher welfare rules, which is urgently needed to support a fair and functional internal market and to ensure consumer confidence in organic animal products across the EU.

The Animal Welfare Intergroup calls on the EP Committee on Agriculture for the following:

  • Ensure use of adapted breeds on organic farms
  • Ensure appropriate outdoor access for all livestock and ban inappropriate exemptions that allow tethering of livestock
  • End keeping methods that confine young calves and pregnant sows
  • Stop mutilations, including avoidable and painful pig castration. Mutilations must only be carried out if truly needed for individual animals for health reasons and conducted with appropriate general anaesthesia and prolonged pain relief.
  • Minimize duration of transport and optimize conditions of transport. Animals must always been slaughtered as close as possible to their point of production.
  • Require appropriate pre-stunning of animals before slaughter without exemption, and phase out certain methods of stunning, e.g. use of water-bath stunners for poultry. Detailed standards for humane slaughter should be provided for.
  • Include specific rules to protect rabbits and aquaculture species, and revise certain housing rules for other species in line with their behavioural needs

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