May 20, 2014
Brazilian Government Expands Budget for Special Animal Welfare Credit Line by 70 Percent
As part of its new Agriculture and Livestock Plan for 2014-2015, the Brazilian government the budget of Inovagro, a credit line with special conditions to stimulate new technology and animal welfare improvements in farm animal production. Humane Society International, a leading animal protection organization working in the promotion of higher animal welfare systems for egg and pork production in Brazil, welcomed the credit line’s renewal and expansion.
The government raised Inovagro’s total budget from R$1 billion to R$1.7 billion. Special conditions include a total amount of R$ 1 million per user, an interest rate of four percent per year, a three-year grace period and a total of 10 years for repayment.
Carolina Galvani, HSI’s senior farm animal campaign manager in Brazil, said: “We applaud the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock for taking animal welfare into consideration in its new Agriculture and Livestock Plan via the renewal and expansion of Inovagro. We work with an increasing number of producers, retailers and food manufacturers in Brazil who are interested in phasing out the use of intensive confinement systems that are highly detrimental to animal welfare. Special credit lines such as Inovagro can definitely help in this process”.
Major food corporations are adopting higher animal welfare sourcing policies that eliminate intensive confinement systems such as battery cages for laying hens and gestation crates for breeding sows. Both systems are becoming increasingly controversial and have been banned in different parts of the world. In Brazil, Unilever has announced that 100 percent of eggs used in its Hellmann’s brand of mayonnaise, the most popular brand in country, will be produced in cage-free systems by 2020. Arcos Dorados, McDonald’s largest franchisee in Latin America, took the lead on pig welfare by announcing earlier this year that by the end of 2016 all its pork will be sourced by producers that can demonstrate plans to limit the use of gestation crates.
Many producers abroad, representing various scales of operations, are using alternative systems that can replace the use of gestation crates and battery cages. These systems include electronic feeding stations for sows in group housing and automated housing equipment for cage-free production and are proven to be economically viable. Pioneering projects that use these technologies also exist in Brazil.
“By promoting and offering special credit lines to implement these technologies, the government is not only benefiting animal welfare, but also helping national producers meet growing demand for higher animal welfare products in the domestic and external markets,” added Galvani.
- In the European Union, a ban on the continuous use of gestation crates came into effect in 2013. In New Zealand and Australia, permanently housing sows in gestation crates will be phased out by 2015 and 2017, respectively. In the United States, nine states have passed legislation to restrict this practice. South Africa is considering a restriction by 2020.
- The use of conventional battery cages for laying hens is banned throughout the EU, New Zealand, three US states and Bhutan. In India, the world’s third largest egg producer, 20 states have declared the use of battery cages violate the country’s animal welfare legislation.
- Other major food corporations that operate in Brazil – such as WalMart, Burger King, Starbucks and Subway – have implemented policies to phase out the use of cages and crates in their US and European supply chains.
- Surveys and retail figures also indicate that Brazilians are concerned about animal welfare and will increasingly opt for products that offer higher standards. According to Pão de Açúcar, the sales of free-range eggs growth at a rate twice higher than sales of eggs produced in cage systems. A survey conducted by Instituto Akatu revealed that around 87 percent of Brazilians would prefer to buy products that did not imply in animal suffering during production, if they had the option.
Raúl Arce-Contreras: 301-721-6440 firstname.lastname@example.org