Assessment of environmental and socio-economic impacts of increased animal welfare standards

This report outlines the environmental and welfare challenges, opportunities, and potential consequences of ending the use of cages in the production of hens, pigs, and rabbits in the EU.

The report finds that:

  • Greater sustainability benefits (across all areas) can be expected if the cage-free transition is accompanied by allied measures. These include changes in the scale of consumption and production of livestock products and the substantial departure from the current large-scale use of concentrated feeds, including imported proteins.
  • Differences in national animal welfare legislation, especially concerning the rabbit sector, are leading to uneven market conditions across the EU. A level playing field should be created for farm animal welfare legislation in the single market, covering all relevant species (including the development of specific legislation at the EU level for the welfare of farmed rabbits).

As the coordinator of a European Citizens’ Initiative on cage-free farming, Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) commissioned IEEP to conduct an independent study on how higher animal welfare standards could support a sustainability transition in the livestock sector while delivering wider positive benefits to society as a whole. The report presents a selection of some of the most promising policy tools and stakeholder actions that would support a transition to a cage-free EU. These have been compiled through stakeholder consultations and a review of commonly proposed recommendations in the literature.

 

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