Battery cages for rabbits should be phased out says Eck report passed by AGRI Committee
EU member states should encourage rabbit farmers to phase out conventional battery cages and replace them with healthier but affordable alternatives, such as park or pen farming systems, says a report by GUE/NGL MEP Stefan Eck which was voted on today in the Agriculture Committee.
Eck's own-initiative report aims to ensure that rabbit farms are better managed and monitored and argues that improving rabbits’ welfare and living conditions would help prevent disease, thus reducing the need for intensive use of antibiotics that might end up in the human food chain.
It argues that public health goes hand in hand with animal health, which depends inter alia on housing conditions, good animal husbandry and management.
The report asks the European Commission to propose guidelines and EU-wide recommendations on farmed rabbits' health, welfare and housing.
It also calls on the Commission and member states to ensure that rabbit meat imported from outside the EU meets the same food safety and animal welfare criteria as that produced in the EU.
In addition, the member states are encouraged to promote research into the best housing systems to improve the welfare of different types of rabbits.
The draft non-legislative resolution was approved by 29 votes in favour to seven against, with nine abstentions.
“The mere fact that after so many years we are finally talking about minimum standards for the protection of rabbits is a success. Today we made progress in the right direction, but ideally we need binding EU rules. The fight for rabbit-specific EU legislation will continue," the Rapporteur comments.
An amendment calling for EU legislation on minimum standards for the protection of farm rabbits was rejected by a single vote (21 in favour, 22 against, two abstentions) but will be re-tabled for the final vote in an upcoming plenary session.
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