Green MEP for London, Jean Lambert has lent her support to a new campaign calling for improved welfare for Europe’s 23 million dairy cows. Due to a lack of specific legislation, standards of welfare vary greatly across the EU, meaning untold numbers of cows are suffering from painful illnesses such as mastitis and lameness as well as low life expectancy.
A collective of organisations, including Compassion in World Farming, WSPA and Ben & Jerry’s, have joined forces in calling for new rules on cow welfare, using the recently launched European Citizen’s Initiative . Under the ECI, Europeans are given the power to propose new legislation on a specific issue if they gain the support of one million signatures from around the EU .
The proposed EU Directive on Dairy Cow welfare calls for common, specific and enforceable standards across Europe as for laying hens, calves, pigs and chickens reared for meat, including:
– Daily access to grazing and shelter against extreme weather, as well as clean and comfortable resting areas with soft bedding such as straw
– Access to fresh, clean drinking water and a daily diet which provides sufficient energy and nutrients
– ‘Improvement’ programmes for the reduction of lameness, mastitis and infertility
Once the petition has collected one million signatures, the initiative will be passed to the European Commission, who will consider whether to propose legislation in response to the concerns raised.
Jean said: “I welcome the Happy Cows campaign, which looks to improve the current law as well as address the failure to provide for the specific needs of dairy cows. These animals are being pushed to increase yields with the result that mastitis, lameness and infertility are increasing. The EU proclaims it follows high standards of animal welfare in its farming practices, but we need to be sure that this applies to all animals. I wish the Happy Cows campaign every success as it looks to collect one million signatures and would urge all Europeans to sign up to the petition.”
Notes to Editor
To sign the petition, visit: http://www.happycows.eu/en/sign