10th Dec 2023


Big-Agri is pushing for loopholes to keep caged animal farming

  • The great majority of mother pigs spend about half of their short lives inside crates or stalls, in which they cannot even turn around (Photo: Compassion in World Farming)
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After years of citizen mobilisation and political support for an upcoming EU ban on cages for farmed animals, the lobbyists of the Big Agri-food industry are now asking the EU for delays and loopholes that would make the new law ineffective in practice.

Thursday (13 October) is World Cage-Free Day.

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  • Tilly Metz MEP (left): 'in March 2019, I locked myself in a cage in my country Luxembourg, in protest against the severe confinement of farmed animals' (Photo: Tilly Metz MEP)

Across the EU, every year about 300 million farmed animals are unjustifiably imprisoned. About half of all the egg-laying hens and nearly all of the rabbits are caged in the space of about an A4 sheet of paper. The great majority of mother pigs spend about half of their short lives inside crates or stalls, in which they cannot even turn around.

Caging animals is cruel, and it needs to end.

Over three years ago, in March 2019, I locked myself in a cage in my country Luxembourg, in protest against the severe confinement of farmed animals.

Campaigners had set up stands in one of the main city squares to collect signatures for the 'End the Cage Age' European Citizens' Initiative — a official instrument allowing Europeans to call for new legislation.

Citizens know that caging is cruel. The 'End the Cage Age' initiative gathered 1.4 million signatures from all across the EU. It was the first successful Initiative for farmed animals and only the sixth successful Initiative since this direct democracy tool was launched over 10 years ago.

Together with citizens, many of my fellow politicians have been pushing for legislative change.

Last year, the European Parliament called for a ban on all cages for farmed animals. In response to the outstanding public and political mobilisation, the European Commission made a commitment in June last year to end this suffering.

Right from the beginning of the 'End the Cage Age' campaign, the Big Agri-food industry was overtly attacking the cage-free movement.

They denigrated campaigners and threatened them with legal action. The industry's spin doctors bashed on the cause through paid media content and fake messaging.

Big farming lobbies are now openly asking the EU Commission to create loopholes so that their dreadful systems won't have to change.

In other words: endless suffering for mother pigs in crates, for hens in tiny cages, for newborn calves in isolated pens, etc.

Asking for delays and loopholes in the coming EU proposal is unacceptable. This would create an even bigger gap between what EU law says on paper and what happens to farmed animals in real life.

One year after the commission's promise, and three years after we, over a million Europeans, signed the European Citizens' Initiative, we are still awaiting on the promised change for farmed animals. We continue to see overwhelming support for the cause — be it from citizens, politicians or scientists.

Change is happening. And it's happening now. The EU Commission must stay strong in its commitments and deliver an ambitious draft law.

Author bio

Tilly Metz is a Luxebourg MEP with the Greens, and president of the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals.


The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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