How does cruelty to animals affect society?

Animal cruelty in agriculture

From the point of view of the German Animal Welfare Association, an essential criterion for animal-friendly husbandry is to keep socially living animals in groups and to offer them exercise in the wild. Sufficient opportunities for movement, daylight, a group size that allows the establishment of an orderly social structure, and a structured environment enable the animals to live out their own behavioral repertoire.

Interventions and amputations must not be justified on the basis of economic considerations. They are absolutely inadmissible and unnecessary because the animals can satisfy their need for activity and their curiosity for suitable objects in an animal-friendly housing system.

However, animal-friendly handling also means that the animals are not trimmed for extreme performance - neither through breeding, genetic engineering, nor through feeding or medication. Instead, healthy and robust old livestock breeds should be kept. Last but not least, professional care of the animals and the housing systems must ensure that their health is regularly checked and that the hygienic conditions and the stable climate meet their needs.

The consumer has the power

Consumers can make a targeted contribution to promoting such husbandry systems by purchasing products from organic farming or the NEULAND association for animal-friendly and environmentally friendly livestock farming. Currently, however, only 1.8% of the farms with an area of ​​2.4% in Germany operate according to ecological criteria. The majority of food of animal origin still comes from conventional agriculture. Consumer demand for products from animal-friendly husbandry is growing, but not as quickly as some would have hoped. One reason is that products from organic farming are mainly offered in health food stores or in special shops and only a small percentage in supermarkets. In northern European countries such as Sweden, on the other hand, an ecological alternative is offered in supermarkets to almost every food from conventional agriculture. This makes it easier for consumers to buy ecological products.

The higher price also discourages some consumers from buying. Products from animal-friendly husbandry are usually more expensive because fewer animals can be kept per area and husbandry systems, feeding and care may result in a higher workload and thus higher production costs. Selling such products is more difficult, not least because the conventional goods are not labeled as such and consumers know too little about the various brands and animal husbandry systems. The example of eggs shows this particularly clearly. Although a large part of the public rejects caging of laying hens according to various surveys, the majority of consumers are still fooled by fancy names from the egg industry such as “farm eggs” or “eggs fresh from the farm” and idyllic images on the packaging. According to a survey on behalf of the German Animal Welfare Association, more than 60% of those questioned believe that such designations are free-range eggs. A mandatory EU-wide labeling according to the husbandry system, which will be mandatory from 2004, will hopefully change this.

Get out of the niche

In order to bring organic farming and comparable animal-friendly livestock keeping programs out of the niche economy, these must be promoted financially as well as through simplified marketing opportunities by politics. A turnaround in agriculture seems more likely than ever in the EU and Germany. In her government declaration on the new consumer protection and agricultural policy in February 2001, Consumer Protection Minister Künast announced that the proportion of products would be increased to a market share of up to 20%. According to a study by the Öko-Institut, a complete conversion of German agriculture to organic farming even appears possible. But in the end it is the consumer and his purchasing behavior who decide whether products from animal-friendly husbandry have long-term market opportunities or not. Decisive for this should be the better quality, less residues in the food and the good feeling of rewarding animal-friendly husbandry.

Literature: Burdick, B .: Guidelines and methods for the protection of farm animals in Europe - A study by the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, Energy GmbH on behalf of the Ministry for the Environment and Forests of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate, Mainz 1999. - Drossé, I. , Rempe, B .: Animal protection through animal-friendly husbandry - on the ethically correct handling of animals in agriculture, in: Forum - Arguments for consumer policy, Ed. Working Group of Consumer Associations (AgV) eV, Bonn 1999. - NEULAND Association: NEULAND guidelines for species-appropriate laying hens, broiler chickens, pigs and cattle.