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European farmings dark side exposed in Brussels

On Wednesday, the European Parliament set the scene for a screening of the eye-opening documentary Pig Business to a packed audience of MEPs, EU Council and Commission officials and environmental, health and animal welfare NGOs, and the international press.


On Wednesday, the European Parliament set the scene for a screening of the eye-opening documentary Pig Business to a packed audience of MEPs, EU Council and Commission officials and environmental, health and animal welfare NGOs, and the international press.

Three MEPs, Jos Bov, Dan Jrgensen and Janusz Wojciechowski sponsored the event as a run up to the pending debate on Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform to inform colleagues in the EU institutions about the true cost of factory farming.

After the event, Andrea Gavinelli, the EU Commissions Head of Animal Welfare, said, The screening was a moment of transparency and reflection. It brought a clear message about what is really happening that people dont know.

The event followed a winter of discontent for pig farmers facing low prices for pork, high feed costs, a health scandal caused by animal feed contaminated with dioxin, and the recent discovery that flies are capable of spreading antibiotic resistant bacteria from intensive farms to neighbouring urban areas.

Following the screening and presentations from a panel of experts, a heated discussion substantiated the films findings that factory farms across Europe disregard legal animal welfare standards, threaten human health by over-reliance on antibiotics, and force traditional farmers out of business.

Janusz Wojciechowski, MEP, said, With so many MEPs attending the screening and debate, it will be easier for us to achieve our aim to reform the CAP by stopping the financing of industrial farming, spending more on supporting traditional small and medium scale mixed crop and livestock farming, and introducing method of production labelling.

Further Quotes from the Event:

Jos Bov, MEP, said, Following the deregulation of markets and open ports, come the big firms, like Cargill, Tyson and Smithfield and with them the concentration of production that is causing the elimination of small farmers. He continued, If the CAP supports an agriculture that destroys the environment and makes poor quality industrial products, I do not see why Europeans would agree to finance the CAP. Everyone knows that 75% of aid goes to 25% of farmers. This is unacceptable.

Dan Jrgensen, MEP said, Pig farming is the biggest threat to the Danish environment. But it is partly because of the success of EU legislation in Denmark, like th e Water Framework, Animal Welfare and Bird Directive, that large-scale Danish farmers have moved production to countries where EU legislation is not so well enforced.  Multinational meat producers only care about how to make money.

Jaroslaw Kalinowski, MEP said, There are 300,000 pig farmers in Poland and 150 factory farms.

Czeslaw Adam Siekierski,  MEP, said, Poland loses out to Germany and Denmark because of the huge supermarket chains, because Denmark has a lot of vertical integration.

In reply to Kalinowskis and Siekierskis comments, Jrgensen said, Its funny and tragic to hear you say that Polish farmers lose out to Danish farmers. I spoke to the Danish Agriculture Minister who said that Danish farmers couldn’t compete with Poland.

Mute Schimpf from Friends of the Earth said, The average farm in Europe is 12 hectares. If we develop a vision for food and ag riculture policy, let us think about the farmers in Europe and not about the lobbies and unions that just think about the bigger farms which should be competitive enough; they dont need public support.

Gerald Choplin,  from European Coordination Via Campesina, which represents farmers from 70 countries, said, In the EU there arent many farmers but there are too many pigs. Because of the very good attendance it was a very useful debate and very helpful for our work not only against big factory farms and for small scale farms, but the fact that there were many people from big business and from the Commission showed that they also felt obliged to hear the debate around a very different CAP.

Tracy Worcester continues, Food and agricultural goods should be exempted from World Trade Organisation (WTO) global trade rules so that all nations and regions have the right to protect themselves from low cost and low welfare imports, i.e . implement food sovereignty. Farmers could then be protected from the vagaries of the global economy and change their methods of production and produce food for local markets. Governments can then procure high welfare and sustainably produced meat from local farmers for public services like schools and hospitals. The giants should be taxed to remunerate society for the true costs of their production.


The Hidden Cost of Factory Farming Pig Business Time for Change Event
This event took place in the EU Parliament, Brussels, 9 February with 280 attendees including MEPs, EU Council and Commission officials, environment, health and animal welfare NGOs, and the international media.

Pig Business Six Big Asks
To emphasise the opportunities for reform of the industrial farming model, MEPs were asked to undertake Pig Business Six Big Asks:

  1. Recognise that the profitability of factory farming depends on externalising its true costs onto the broader community.
  2. Ensure the Common Agricultural Policy post 2013 moves European agriculture away from industrial livestock production to sustainable, humane and autonomous forms of animal husbandry.
  3. Ensure better enforcement and strengthening of the existing EU Directive on the welfare of pigs.
  4. Introduce mandatory method of production labelling.
  5. Introduce a ban on routine prophylactic use of antibiotics.
  6. Ensure local, national and EU public bodies only source locally or nationally produced high welfare pork.

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