Pigs on a factory farm. Photo: Depositphotos.com

MPs remain divided about new measures to boost animal welfare on livestock farms, despite voting in favor in 2021 of legislation stipulating that animals can no longer suffer pain or discomfort when kept in cages or stables, and must be able to display natural behavior.

That legislation, drafted by the pro-animal PvdD, was criticized by both the industry and former agriculture minister Carola Schouten at the time for being too open to interpretation. It should, however, come into effect next year.

But farmers are concerned that the new rules will cost them too much money and open them up to competition from countries where animal welfare rules are not as strict. And current farm minister Piet Adema has now published his own proposals which he says clarify some of the vagueness in the original proposal.

During Monday’s debate, Caroline van der Plas, leader of the pro-farming BBB said the legislation should not come into force as planned. “It could mean the end of livestock farming,” he said, urging MPs to back Adema’s alternative.

The far-right PVV, which has 37 MPs and a key role in the vote, did not take part in the debate. In 2021, the party backed the PvdD’s motion but is now hoping to form a new coalition government with the BBB, and that could put its support in doubt.

To complicate matters further D66 and the VVD have come up with their own plans, accusing the minister of delivering “poor work” and not setting concrete targets. Both their proposals include giving farmers more of a role in deciding how to proceed.

In total, there are now four plans on the table. The debate will continue next week and in two weeks time MPs will vote. In the meantime, Adema said he would assess all the proposals as they now stand.

Animal welfare BBB Business Farming
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By fersz