State Animal Welfare Label for Pigs: Cabinet Agrees on Animal Welfare Labelling Act

The Federal Cabinet has agreed on the draft legislation for the introduction and use of an animal welfare label. In February 2019, Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner presented the criteria for the planned state animal welfare label for pigs. The criteria of all three levels of the label exceed the statutory minimum standard.

The state animal welfare label aims at providing consumers with visible information about which products comply with higher standards than are required by law.

Criteria and Key Elements of the Animal Welfare Label

In order to optimise market potential, the animal welfare label has three levels. The criteria of all levels go beyond the requirements of the statutory minimum standards, with increasing requirements from level to level.

Criteria of the State Animal Welfare Label for Pig Farming

The criteria that are planned for the state animal welfare label for pig farming contain the following elements:

  1. Space
  2. Organic occupational material
  3. Structuring of pens
  4. Nesting material
  5. Suckling period
  6. Tail docking
  7. Piglet castration
  8. Water for drinking
  9. In-house controls with checks of stall climate and drinking water
  10. Advanced training in animal welfare
  11. Recording of animal welfare indicators
  12. Transportation to the slaughterhouse
  13. Slaughter

Further Elements to Apply to the Planned Label:

  • positive labelling for products that exceed the legal standard, as with the organic label;
  • comprehensive integration of all supply channels for meat and meat products (processed products);
  • broad-based involvement of the entire chain (including retail, the restaurant and catering industry, the craft sectors, processing operators);
  • inclusion of a great number of farmers who want to do more for animal welfare; and
  • state aid to achieve these objectives.

The Planned Schedule

The coalition agreement stipulates that the animal welfare label is to be adopted by the halfway mark of the legislative period. The Animal Welfare Labelling Act has been notified to the European Commission. First, criteria will be developed for pig farming, subsequently for other farm animals.

Developing a state animal welfare label is a complex process, taking into account many aspects. The big challenge is to achieve a broad consensus between the parties involved in order to ensure the maximum participation of stakeholders in the value-added chain. Only then can the label achieve the envisaged market relevance. It is in the nature of the matter that different interest groups adopt different positions. Our neighbouring countries the Netherlands and Denmark have shown that an animal welfare label can be successful on the market.

The aim is for the state animal welfare label to be successful on the market. In addition to that, it needs to be ensured – with participation from industry – that farmers have the opportunity to offset the additional costs. The promotion of investments – also with a view to construction measures – plays an important role here.

Consumer Requests and Market Potential

The results of the 2019 BMEL Nutrition Report show that the majority of consumers wish to see a state animal welfare label (81 percent). The introduction of a state animal welfare label is a response to this request. In its envisaged form, a state label will enable consumers to recognise products produced according to standards higher than the statutory minimum and to consider this when making their purchasing decisions. An animal welfare label will also provide good opportunities for farmers to stabilise their incomes.

Background note

The label will be developed based on scientific criteria and practical experience, for instance from industry’s animal welfare initiative Brancheninitiative Tierwohl and existing labels. Representatives from the scientific community, industry associations, animal welfare and consumer protection associations are all involved in the process of developing the state label. The criteria will be set down in an ordinance that will be enacted in a legislative procedure involving the Federal Parliament.

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