September 21, 2015
Austrian Ministry of Finance Links Animal Welfare and Investment Policy
Humane Society International applauds move, urges other EU Member States to follow suit
The Austrian Ministry of Finance has committed to safeguarding and enhancing animal welfare when granting investment capital through international finance institutions. This commitment is referenced within the Austrian government’s updated policy strategy relating to international finance institutions, released this week, and reflects the growing importance of animal welfare in agricultural development and food policy.
Joanna Swabe, EU executive director Humane Society International, said: “We applaud the Austrian Ministry of Finance for taking this first step towards ending financial support for poor animal welfare housing systems in emerging and developing economies. Similar policies by other Member States will be critical to raising farm animal welfare standards worldwide.”
The World Bank is revising its Safeguard Policies that define criteria for future investments. HSI has created an online tool for people to write to the World Bank executive directors, calling for the inclusion of meaningful animal welfare standards that would preclude the most extreme confinement practices in animal agriculture.
- The European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy states that the concern for animal welfare extends beyond the EU’s borders.
- Across the globe, an overwhelming number of egg-laying hens, breeding pigs and veal calves are confined in battery cages, individual sow stalls and veal crates, respectively. The intensive confinement of these production systems severely impairs animal welfare, given that the animals are unable to exercise or engage in many important natural behaviours. Extensive scientific evidence has demonstrated that intensively confined farm animals experience boredom, distress and suffering.
- Conventional battery cages for egg-laying hens, the continual confinement of pregnant sows in individual sow stalls, and veal crates for calves have already been banned and phased out throughout the EU.
- In May 2014, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development revised its Environmental and Social Policy to include animal welfare, requiring clients to implement relevant EU farm animal welfare standards or good international practice, whichever is most stringent, when investment capital is provided. HSI believes that the EBRD’s policy should serve as a model for other international finance institutions, including the World Bank Group.
A report by HSI highlighted the use of public funds by international financial institutions and export credit agencies to support facilities using extreme confinement systems to raise animals for food in third countries. The report brought the issue to the attention of Member State governments and the European Parliament.