The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2014-2020 rural development measures appear to have helped improve animal welfare, according to a new study by the European Commission.
The study, which was published this week, looked at how the latest PAC helped improve welfare conditions and reduce antimicrobial use. He also presented a number of recommendations to better assess the future achievements of the CAP 2023-2027.
The results showed that overall, the CAP seems to have contributed to improving animal welfare at local level in specific sectors in certain Member States and regions, depending on the implementation choices.
According to the Commission, animal welfare and the use of antimicrobials have mainly been addressed through rural development measures. These have proven to be most effective when combined with investments in better housing, food and health management. Techniques such as raising awareness among farmers through advisory services or training can encourage such investments, the study points out.
According to the study, societal pressure can also play a role in encouraging farmers, organizations and management authorities to change their practices. He stated:
“For example, egg production marketing standards set at EU level have influenced consumer demand and production choices by requiring mandatory labeling of eggs according to production systems and housing conditions. laying hens.”
Animal welfare recommendations
Despite the apparent improvements in practice, it was pointed out that it is difficult to assess to what extent changes in practice have been induced by CAP instruments.
This was due to a lack of indicators to document the progress of the implementation of the measures and their corresponding effects. Accordingly, the study included a number of recommendations for the upcoming CAP.
The main recommendation of the study is that Member States implement more general measures aimed at animal welfare. He added that a common European methodology to document animal welfare best practices to be implemented on farms, with relevant targets, should be developed.
He also suggested providing a comprehensive overview of the number of animals affected by different types of animal welfare and antimicrobial use interventions at the national level.
In addition, data will need to distinguish between different sectors such as cattle, sheep, pigs or poultry, and use number of animals instead of number of livestock units. It was also stated in the conclusions that:
“Advisory services should also be encouraged as they have proven effective in increasing farmers’ technical knowledge of best animal welfare practices.”
Finally, the study suggested that mandatory food labeling systems, similar to current standards for eggs, should be explored. He pointed out that it could be beneficial to extend these regulations to other agricultural products.