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EU barren battery cage ban takes step forward with decree from Spain


Consistent pressure from Compassion in World Farming has helped persuade the Spanish government to issue a Royal Decree to enforce the most important piece of animal welfare legislation yet to be introduced in the EU.

Reacting to lobbying and public pressure from Compassions supporters, who sent more than 16,000 emails to the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, the government issued the decree this week which sets out how it intends to ensure farmers comply with the ban on barren battery cages for laying hens.

Through its The Big Move Campaign Compassion is calling for EU member states to demonstrate how their farmers will meet the ban, which comes into effect across the EU in January 2012.

Michele Danan, Head of Public Affairs at Compassion in World Farming, said: It is essential that all member states demonstrate they are ready to comply with this piece of legislation, which will improve the lives of hundreds of millions of hens. With the dedication of our supporters we have managed to help persuade the Spanish government to take action, which we encourage others to follow.

As DEFRA tells us the UK will be fully compliant with the ban, it is important that all other EU member states are too. There are still a small number of countries, France and Italy for instance, which are lagging behind and we will be working tirelessly to ensure they too comply with the legislation when it comes into force in January.

A battery hen spends her short life crammed into a small wire cage with several other hens. The floor is made of wire mesh. Under EU law, the minimum floor space each bird is allowed is less than an A4 sheet of paper.

A barren battery cage prevents a hen from carrying out her natural behaviours, such as foraging for food, laying her eggs in a nest, roosting, stretching her wings and dust-bathing. This causes her extreme physical and psychological stress.

The EU egg industry has had 12 years to prepare for the ban of barren battery cages and member states are fully aware of their obligations under the law. Having successfully fought off a possible delay to the ban, Compassion is now pushing member states to say how they are going to ensure their farmers will not be producing eggs from hens in barren battery cages from January.

The Royal Decree, issued by the Spanish government, obliges all Spanish farmers who still use battery cages for their laying hens to submit a plan explaining how they will change to so-called enriched cages or a barn or free-range system by January next year. It also asks them to highlight what, if any, financial help they may need to do this.

Compassion in World Farming was founded over 40 years ago in 1967 by a British farmer who became horrified by the development of modern, intensive factory farming. Today we campaign peacefully to end all cruel factory farming practices. We believe that the biggest cause of cruelty on the planet deserves a focused, specialised approach so we only work on farm animal welfare.

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