The renewed animal law was to enter into force in 2023. This has been adopted by the 1st and 2nd Chapters and therefore has great social support. But now it is already halfway through 2022, and discussions are still ongoing about which parties can contribute to the drafting of a pact. The animals therefore still do not look to get better in 2023. In addition to being unethical, this is also a huge missed opportunity for humans, animals and the planet, according to 23 organizations, including the Demeter Foundation. On behalf of these organizations, Caring Farmer’s Minister Staghouwer asks in the prayer below to expedite and set the bar high as soon as possible.
Tail clipping, mass production, day-old taps, lack of outdoor air, barn fires, killing … For decades, the public outcry over intensive livestock farming has been widespread, and the government has promised improvements. As early as 2002, D66 Minister Brinkhorst said that “chicken must be able to forage, root pigs and graze cows”. Unfortunately, much remained the same, the farm kept getting bigger, prices lower, more and more farmers disappeared and a wildlife is still worth nothing.
We were therefore happy when the renewed animal law was passed in the House of Representatives and the Senate in 2020. From 2023, animals must no longer be adapted to the stable, but the environment must be at the service of the animal.
In 2022 from law to pact
Now, May 2022, improvement still seems to be far away. Why? Because the government chose not to implement the renewed animal law, but to formulate a ‘Convention on Animal Husbandry’, where all the old inhibiting parties threaten to come to the table. Our fear is great that the established parties will slow down by talking heavily about ‘food security’, ‘working towards 2050’ and ‘covering pigtails is important to prevent worse suffering’. We are afraid that economic interests in the current system will again prevail over the interest of the animal.
Animal welfare as an option
It would not only be ethically irresponsible, but also a missed opportunity. The Council on Animal Affairs has recently drawn up a definition of Livestock for the Ministry. In our case, it can still be improved because, for example, meaning or breeding has not been taken into account, but it is clear that animals must keep tails and horns and they must be allowed to run free. It means a huge change, but one that will also have huge positive consequences. For much more space per animal means much fewer animals in our small country. The current livestock with 600 million slaughters each year suffers from disease outbreaks and damages the climate, nature, biodiversity, animal and human health. It makes no one happy, not even the farmer. A contraction is necessary to cope with these problems.
A pact on animal husbandry should therefore not be left to the parties of ordinary farmers. The question is whether there should be many farmers at the table at all. For what it’s really about is not just a change in livestock farming where animals can forage, but a reversal of our entire food system. That means a different diet for the consumer, different legislation, different supermarket policy, no more animal-unfriendly meat imports, more field farmers and vegetable growers. And if we do it right, it will not only provide a better life for animals, but a healthier diet and a solution to climate and nitrogen problems. So a better life for ourselves.
Who should be involved?
Who are you putting at the table? The agricultural organizations that have been on the brakes for decades? Or do you put experts in animal welfare, infectious diseases, legislation, retail, health and diet and use the farmer who already largely farms according to the definition of ‘animal-friendly livestock farming’ – for example the biodynamic and 3 Better Life Star Farmer – as example and source of information? The latter seems so much more logical since the interests are so great and so broad. And let’s also ask the animals themselves. They are the main stakeholder and new knowledge in linguistics about their way of communicating allows us to ask them more and more about their needs.
An animal husbandry agreement must therefore provide clear rules and a different market that demands locally produced, animal-friendly food, and then the farmer follows suit with a little help. Farmers have been saying for decades that they would like to relocate if the market changes.
Our question for the whole cabinet is really to go through with it this time. Not for 1 Better Life star, but straight for 3, or even for 4 or 5! It is, of course, a gigantic challenge, and most farmers find it daunting. But it also gives the farmer the chance to get out of the downward spiral with more for less and to become a farmer again. The opportunity to work with more farmers on smaller farms with fewer animals to do everything that moves a farmer and that society values: animal care, nature and the production of fair and healthy food. Full steam ahead and work with the right parties for an accelerated transition to animal husbandry!
The letter was signed by the Animal Coalition (17 organizations), the Animal Trade Union, the Agro-Organic Farmers Federation, the Demeter Foundation, the Compassion in World Farming Holland, Caring Vets and Caring Farmers.
Source: Demeter Foundation and caring farmers