Swiss people will vote next week on whether they want to ban factory farming in an initiative on September 25 that also demands that the dignity of farm animals is protected as a constitutional requirement.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for the people of Switzerland to lead the way in Europe and start to reform the outdated agricultural system. Factory farming should no longer be tolerated today not only because of the suffering it causes to animals but also because of its huge environmental impact,” said Jasmijn de Boo, vice president of food awareness NGO ProVeg International.
“Factory farming is responsible for agricultural run-off and mass river pollution, greenhouse gas emissions including the much more dangerous gas methane, compacted soil as well as increased risk in antimicrobial resistance and crops wasted on animal feed,” de Boo added.
ProVeg advocates for a transition to plant-based diets and is pushing for a 50% reduction in global meat consumption by 2040. Plant-based foods have about half the carbon footprint of animal-based foods. A study from Bonn University published this year finds that rich countries will need to reduce their meat consumption by up to 75% to meet international climate targets and avoid ecosystem collapse.
“If Swiss people vote to ban factory farming next week it would represent a significant in-road into the reduction of meat production which is so very urgently needed,” de Boo said.
Text of the initiative
The text of the initiative states that the federal government would have to set more strict minimum requirements for animal-friendly housing and care, access to the outdoors, slaughtering practices and the maximum group size per pen.
These requirements, the text states, would have to meet the Bio Suisse standards for 2018 as a minimum, and all farms would have to comply with the new rules in their animal husbandry.
The requirements would also apply to the import of animals and animal products as well as foods with ingredients of animal origin.
“We urge EU lawmakers to look at similar measures restricting factory farming so that Switzerland does not face obstacles to trade and a level-playing field is created for all farmers, both arable and livestock,” de Boo said.