The farming of animals in cages should be gone from the European Union’s agricultural landscape by 2027, members of the European Parliament have voted.
MEPs voting in Strasbourg on backing the citizens’ initiative End the Cage Age, which gathered 1,397,113 validated signatures to a petition calling for an end to caged farming, which they argue keeps 300 million animals in miserable conditions, while other options exist.
The motion before the parliament was to back the citizens’ initiative by calling on the European Commission to bring forward legislation to ban farming in cages by 2027 at the latest, following a thorough scientific report and a transition period to allow farmers to adapt their production.
The motion was carried by 558 votes in favour, 37 against and 85 abstentions.
“Alternatives to cage farming exist and are being successfully implemented in a number of member states, MEPs say,” the parliament said in a press release.
“These alternative systems should be further improved and encouraged at member state level, but to ensure a level-playing field for farmers across the European Union, MEPs agreed EU legislation is needed.”
Research is required, MEPs agreed, to ensure the replacement of cages takes account of the varying needs of different animals. And the change would be so radical that farmers would require adequate time to transition and support to help them do so.
“This could include adequate advisory and training services, incentives and financial programmes to avoid farmers losing their competitive edge and prevent the relocation of EU agricultural production to places where animal welfare standards are lower than in the EU,” the parliament said.
MEPs also called for a more comprehensive food policy to support the shift towards a more sustainable food system, but also to prevent small and medium-sized farms from abandoning livestock production and stop its further concentration in the hands of a few large farms.
In the same debate, MEPs also called on the Commission to come up with a proposal to ban the cruel and unnecessary force-feeding of ducks and geese for the production of foie gras.