Every New Year’s Eve many of us raise a glass to toast health and happiness to our loved ones. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a happy and prosperous year ahead and to thank you for all your support during 2010. I would also like to share with you how I see the coming year for Compassion.
The year ahead will be hugely important for us. It will see us focus on taking our message more strongly than ever across Europe. We will set up new teams to take forward our programmes in the key countries of France, Italy and Poland. We will build our presence in the Netherlands. And we will revamp our partnership activities with kindred societies through the farm animal campaigning coalition, of which we’ve been at the forefront since the 1990s.
We will focus on making sure that the ban on barren battery cages for laying hens goes ahead on time and undiluted. It is due to come into force in 2012 and represents one of the greatest victories of our movement so far. We will press for proper enforcement of European rules designed to protect farm animal welfare, but sadly so often flouted. Just one example is the ban on the routine tail-docking of pigs in Europe. Cutting their tails off routinely is banned, yet our investigations reveal that most pigs still suffer this mutilation. This must surely change. We will also call for better enforcement of the rules designed to provide protection for animal welfare at slaughter and in transport. At the same time, we will continue to press for an end to the long distance transportation of live animals for slaughter and further fattening.
A key area for us will be our expanding engagement with food companies. We will again step up our work with corporations, encouraging, inspiring and supporting them in new animal-friendly policies, such as going cage-free on all their eggs or using only higher welfare dairy systems. Our team will continue to further their dialogue with the most influential companies in the European retail, food manufacturing and food service sectors, applauding them as and when commitments are made to new animal-friendly policies. Our approach is snowballing in its effectiveness to inspire positive changes for animals, as evidenced by our ever-growing ‘Good Farm Animal Welfare’ Awards.
And at the heart of what we do, we will be working with key partners to take forward the message that a humane and sustainable food future relies on moving beyond factory farming worldwide. It is a message that we will drive with policy-makers, offering a solutions-based alternative to the industrial animal farming model; a model that is so wasteful of finite resources such as oil and water and seriously affects the environment, public health and animal welfare.
My big hope for 2011 is that this is the year when more people than ever before see factory farming for what it is. I want them to see for themselves the huge damage it does to animals, people and the environment. And that we don’t need factory farming to feed the world, as set out so clearly in our report commissioned jointly with Friends of the Earth, called ‘Eating the planet?’.
The good news is that our anti-factory farming message does resonate with people. There is a growing desire to buy meat, eggs and dairy products produced from animals raised to higher welfare standards. Farmers, food manufacturers, retailers, suppliers and caterers as well as locally elected authorities across the country are responding to this growing demand from consumers. Compassion’s corporate engagement work, of which the Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards is the visible tip of the iceberg, is one of our fastest growing campaigns and testimony to this shift in public opinion away from factory farming.
Increasing disruption to the climate caused by rising temperatures combined with limited natural resources, squandered by factory farming, will bring into focus international food security issues. We will be forced to fundamentally rethink how our food is produced; how we will feed people, not only today, but also tomorrow. Next year could be the year when this reaches the tipping point. It could be the year when the folly of factory farming as a policy option really begins to show through. One thing is for certain – Compassion will press harder than ever before to show that a better way is possible, practical and compelling.
Our campaigns will continue to touch on key issues of the day. Not least of these will be our ongoing campaign to stop the proposed mega-dairy in Nocton, Lincolnshire. We’ve asked for the planning application to be reviewed by national government rather than the district council, given the national significance of this precedent-setting proposal. At stake is the future of dairy cows in our fields, where they belong, as well as that of Britain’s already hard-pressed dairy farmers. How ironic is it that at this time of real progress, with greater numbers of hens and pigs being kept outdoors again, some in the dairy industry are apparently keen to rush backwards and keep dairy cows in what is, in effect, an enormous factory farm. We will work tirelessly to stop mega-dairies taking hold in the UK and the EU.
We will continue to build alliances with like-minded organisations, building broad coalitions to fight factory farming. With so many good reasons why it must be stopped, there is room for everyone to make a difference. From our headquarters in the UK, we are strengthening and expanding our operations in Europe. From the New Year, I’m pleased to say, we will also have a dedicated presence in the USA. This exciting initiative complements our presence in China and South Africa, and will strengthen our close work with friends and colleagues internationally, particularly The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Humane Society International (HSI), the RSPCA and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).
I want to look back on 2011 and be able to say that it was the year when the veil was lifted from factory farming. I want next year to be the turning point when people and government come together in unison with an understanding that we must move beyond factory farming for the sake of the animals, the environment and ourselves. Let’s make it happen. And bring about compassion in world farming.