Posts Tagged ‘barren battery cages’

Walmart, nation’s biggest retailer, announces new position on farm animal welfare

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Walmart_supercentre_brockvilleToday marked a historical tipping point in the United States, as retail giant Walmart published a new position paper to address farm animal welfare. The company is the leading retailer in the country, with Walmart’s largest merchandising category being groceries. It accounts for 56% of sales – or $188 billion. According to the USDA (US Department of Agriculture), Walmart was the largest seller of grocery items in the US in 2013.

The impact of such a market leader in taking farm animal welfare seriously cannot be overstated.

The highlight of the policy is Walmart’s recognition of the five freedoms of animal welfare. This is an acknowledgement that farm animals should be protected from fear, stress and pain. The principle also recognises farm animals should have their basic needs met including providing food, water and shelter and an environment that allows them to express natural behaviour.

Walmart also asks suppliers to specifically address concerns related to close confinement systems and painful procedures. These include gestation crates for mother pigs, barren battery cages for laying hens and veal crates for calves. In addition, they call out tail docking and castration as areas to be addressed. While no date was set on implementation, the clear language is a step in the right direction and will send a message to producers not to reinvest in equipment from these systems.

Walmart, as an industry leader, has helped ensure today that these inhumane cages and crates for farm animals will go the way of the dinosaur. There is no turning back when the largest retailer in the country begins to turn its back on these cruel systems.

Since 2012, Compassion in World Farming has been involved, through the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare, with benchmarking Walmart along with other global leaders for investors with regard to farm animal welfare policy. In 2012, Walmart received a less-than-favourable report, ranking in the lowest tier for its farm animal welfare policies. The company, however, continues to make meaningful strides toward continuous improvement for farm animals and with this new policy is expected to improve.

Walmart is addressing animal welfare issues, such as the battery cage for laying hens

Walmart is addressing farm animal welfare concerns, such as battery cages for laying hens

This comes in a year when retailers and restaurants across the United States are moving away from close-confinement systems such as gestation crates, battery cages and veal crates and are adopting overarching farm animal welfare policies for the first time. Recently, food service giants such as Nestlé, Starbucks and Aramark released similar policies.

Food businesses are hearing the message loud and clear. Animal welfare matters. It matters to customers, to the sustainability of the environment, to the future of the company, and last, but not least, to the animals.

Top Blogs 2013

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

Looking through the ten most read blogs of this year I’m struck by how much they represent our work for farm animals at home and abroad.

Compassion in World Farming founders, Anna & Peter Roberts

Compassion in World Farming founders, Anna & Peter Roberts

What could be closer to home than the sad news of our co-founder’s passing, Anna Roberts, in August? Anna and her husband, Peter, who died in 2006, launched Compassion in World Farming in 1967. They were dairy farmers who saw foresaw the devastating impact of factory farming and decided something had to be done. We’re indebted to their vision and tenacity.

Anna and Peter also founded Direct Foods whose products included Sosmix and Protoveg. They understood the waste of feeding soya to factory farmed animals when it could feed people directly. They were pioneers. Today’s visionaries were featured in the second most read blog. In The Future of Meat I wrote about how Microsoft magnate, Bill Gates, was investing in “in vitro” meat. As Gates puts it, innovation in meat production has “tremendous market potential”.

Joanna explains her concerns about laws not being enforced

Joanna explains her concerns about laws not being enforced

The shocking reality of pigs and their cruel treatment in Europe outraged many. Our investigations exposed widespread breaches of EU law in place to protect pigs. Compassion’s patron, Joanna Lumley OBE, spoke out at our press conference in the European Parliament in Brussels in September.

Two reasons to celebrate!

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Laying henxI am so pleased to share with you two pieces of good news.

The first is that the European Commission has decided to take legal action against Greece and Italy to enforce the ban on barren battery cages in those countries. Greece and Italy are the last countries to comply with the law, which came into force over a year ago.

It is testimony to the hard campaigning from you, our wonderful supporters, and our Big Move campaign, that over a dozen non-compliant countries a year ago has been converted into just two. It has also, no doubt, influenced the Commission to lose patience with the remaining pair of nations, serving notice that they’ll be taken to the European Court of Justice.

Many millions of laying hens will be better off as a result of this action.

The second cause to celebrate is over signs of real progress for our RAW campaign to see an end to factory farming altogether. As you’ll appreciate, this is a longer term goal, but one that we have been doggedly pursuing.

Rabbit Revolution

Friday, June 8th, 2012
Our recent investigations in Europe have revealed factory farming’s best kept secret: millions of rabbits raised in barren battery cages so small they cannot hop about or sit upright. Each rabbit has the space equivalent to a standard A4 sheet of typing paper. It’s a familiar story, even if the victim is new.

Having led a successful campaign to ban barren battery cages for hens in the EU, it’s particularly galling to find yet another animal being widely forced to live in similar conditions. Our investigators looked into this appalling industry in France, Italy and Spain. This is how they described what they found: 

‘Dripping urine and rabbit faeces had built up underneath the wire mesh battery cages…mounds piled knee-high in several sections. It’s a truly filthy business.’

‘The intensive rabbit farms I saw were the dirtiest and most squalid farms I’ve ever visited – one was literally ramshackle, falling apart at the seams, exposing tiers of caged rabbits to the elements.’

This is why Compassion is calling for an end to factory farming for rabbits. It’s estimated that over 300 million rabbits are farmed in the EU, the vast majority of them in cages. Despite this incredible number of rabbits – in fact they are the second most farmed species in Europe, second only to chickens – we cannot find one single piece of EU legislation that specifically protects them from cruelty, injury or pain. Rabbits have even been left out of the new EU slaughter regulations for 2013.

That is why we’re looking for a Rabbit Revolution! We want an urgent end to caged rabbit farming in favour of group housing and free range farming. We also want to see rabbit meat labelled according to method of production so that consumers can know whether the meat is produced humanely or not. If we can get chickens and pigs out of cages, then, we must also free rabbits from factory farms. Please join with me today to make rabbits in factory farms illegal.


© istockphoto

Europe’s shameful offenders

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

January 1st 2012 was a landmark day for animal welfare in the EU. The arrival of the ban on barren battery cages was a long time coming and we all took a moment, quite rightly, to celebrate and appreciate the difference this would make to the lives of hundreds of millions of hens. We knew at the time, though, that we still had work to do if the EU was to be completely free of cruel barren battery cages. Despite the generous 13 years the egg industry across Europe was given to get rid of the cages, many producers still left it too late to make the change. So now, more than four months later, the lack of progress some EU countries seem to be making in implementing a ban that should already be in place is both frustrating and astounding.

The latest reports are that farmers in 12 EU countries are still profiting from keeping hens crammed in these tiny cages. Their disregard for the new rules means millions of hens are still living in miserable conditions in the EU. It also leaves the majority of farmers, who invested significant amounts of time and money into getting rid of the cages, at a disadvantage. The longer it takes for the 12 rogue states to clean up their act, the greater the disadvantage to those farmers using legal systems and the more hens still in cramped cages will suffer. The Commission will now move to the second stage of its infringement procedure, eventually getting the European Court of Justice involved. But progress through the EU machine will be slow and national governments have a duty both to the hens stuck in barren battery cages and to EU tax payers not to burden the Union with further costs.

It’s encouraging to see that Romania has dropped off the list of rogue states yet to release their hens from illegal systems, and the European Commission’s swift response to non-compliance is welcome. But the governments of those countries still shamefully flouting the rules should never have allowed this to happen. The rest of the non-compliant states need to follow Romania’s lead and consign barren battery cages in the EU to history.

Farmageddon on film

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About Philip Lymbery

Philip Lymbery is Chief Executive Officer of Compassion in World Farming and co-author of Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat. He is an internationally respected authority on the impact of industrial agriculture on people, animals and the planet.