GERMANY - The German agriculture department has launched a new initiative to make animal welfare a high priority.
Speaking at the KTBL (Association for Technology and Structures in Agriculture) Days 2015 symposium on the Challenge of Animal Welfare, the Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Dr Maria Flachsbarth said that many people not just livestock farmers and those involved with farm animals are concerned about welfare issues.
She said it was equally important for consumers, which is why the ministry was launching the initiative "A Question of Attitude - New ways of improving animal welfare".
The initiative aims to achieve real improvements for animals in a reasonable time frame without losing sight of the economic factors.
“We need to keep an eye of the efficiency and competitiveness of livestock farmers, because it would serve neither the consumer nor the animals if the livestock trade should move to other countries,” Dr Flachsbarth said.
She said that some measures such as the inspection and approval system for intensive housing systems will require legislation and the ministry of agriculture is to put forward proposals in the next parliament.
Other areas such as changes to surgical interventions that are outside health practices, the minister said that these would be subject to economics.
She said that she wanted to see progress made on measures under the principle of “voluntary mandatory”.
However, if this does not lead to progress, she said that legal steps might have to be taken.
The minister said that animal welfare does not stop at the German borders. Both in terms of the good of the animals and achieving a level playing field it is important to advance animal welfare at a European level.
She said that Germany has already joined forces with Denmark and the Netherlands to adopt a Declaration for Animal Welfare in Europe and other initiatives are in the pipeline.
The Association for Technology and Structures in Agriculture made the Challenge of Animal Welfare the priority on the first day of the KTBL Days 2015 symposium and on the second day made the focus Economic Aspects and Strategies.
She said through these themes the KTBL was meeting the nub of the current social and agricultural policy debate.