NLOn 28-29 September 2016, the Committee on Budgets will vote on the budgetary amendments and pilot projects of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017- all sections.

Also this year, several budgetary amendments and proposals for pilot projects have been tabled that address a variety of animal welfare related issues.

Among the animal welfare related amendments is  a pilot project on the establishment of a harmonised  (AGRI-draft amendment 160 and ENVI draft amendment 494 (identical)).

The surgical castration of young piglets without pain relief is a common and increasingly controversial pig management practice, currently affecting 63 million animals every year. Yet, practical experience from major pork supply chains within the European Union shows that viable and profitable alternatives to surgical castration exist. The aim of the proposed pilot project is to bring major stakeholders together – slaughterhouses, food processors and retailers, and involving farmers as needed – and foster the sharing and dissemination of techniques and best practices that eliminate the need to castrate pigs surgically.

Emphasis will be given to knowledge transfer activities concerning:

(a) reliable and viable boar taint detection methods

(b) utilisation of boar tainted carcasses during processing

(c) marketing and valorisation of meat from pigs that are not surgically castrated.

Trust building and exchange of information among all market parties in a peer-to-peer environment will be an important communication activity. The project will deliver a practice-based guidance document paving the ground for a harmonised internal market for pig meat obtained from animals that are not surgically castrated.

This pilot project will help to reach the goals of the European Declaration on alternatives to surgical castration of pigs, a voluntary and stakeholder-driven agreement to phase out surgical castration of pigs by 2018. The declaration was signed by 33 parties representing European farmers, meat industry, retailers, scientists, veterinarians and animal welfare NGOs. While some member states have taken concrete initiatives to this end, there is currently no harmonised internal market for pig meat obtained from pigs that have not been surgically castrated. This is hindering the progress of the Declaration. If carried, the pilot project will  contribute to accelerate the process by providing and disseminating practical solutions to commonly perceived problems among key operators of the pork chain, while also showcasing the associated economic and societal advantages of stopping with the surgical castration of pigs.

In spite of the efforts of the European Declaration and of the encouraging research findings and practical experiences, only the Netherlands and Belgium are successfully marketing pig meat obtained from pigs that are not surgically castrated. The availability of such meat is currently limited to the respective internal markets, due to challenges in cross-border market acceptance. A specific project is required to overcome the market barriers that are still impeding a generalised shift towards animal welfare friendlier practices.

Jan Huitema MEP (ALDE, NL), the Members of the Intergroup’s working group on pig welfare as well as the Intergroup as a whole  call on the Budget Committee to support this important initiative  during next week vote in BUDG Committee.


Comments are closed.