Over the coming years, Eurogroup for Animals and the Dutch steering group ‘Boars 2018’ will cooperate closely in Europe. By doing so, both parties aim to contribute to the realisation of the EU target to bring an end to the castration of pigs in the entire European Union by 2018. The cooperation was announced on the 14 November2013 in Utrecht where the current Dutch situation regarding pig castration was explored and both parties agreed to work together to build market acceptance in Europe.
While targets in the Netherlands have largely been achieved, the sector in the rest of Europe still has a long way to go. “The cooperation between the Dutch pig farming sector and Eurogroup for Animals is unique,” said steering group president Annechien ten Have. “For the first time a European animal welfare group has joined forces with the pig meat sector to realise a common goal in Europe.”
Five years ago, a number of parties connected to the Dutch pig farming sector (LTO, NVV, COV, and CBL) signed the Declaration of Noordwijk. With this Declaration they agreed to bring an end to pig castration in the Netherlands by 2015. In 2011, the European parties signed the Declaration of Brussels to ban pig castration in the whole of the European Union by 2018. The Dutch pig farming sector has already made great progress, with more than half of pigs no longer being castrated. Other European countries, on the other hand, stick to a more conservative approach, and are more reluctant to accept meat from pigs that have not been castrated, which negatively affects the Dutch pig farming sector.
For years, the Dutch steering group ‘Boars 2018’ has shown an active engagement to achieve its goals. From 2014, its activities focus primarily on other parties in Europe. The steering group wants to follow a similar strategy in Europe by cooperating in all openness with other stakeholders, such as animal welfare groups. “We have to achieve the European target by 2018. It is mainly about market acceptance. It was proven in the Netherlands that you can achieve goals by cooperating,” according to ten Have. “That is why we contacted Eurogroup for Animals.”
According to Eurogroup for Animals’ Director, Reineke Hameleers, the interests of the pig farming sector and animal welfare groups are often perceived as being radically opposed to each other. “But if you talk with each other, it becomes clear that there are similarities,”Hameleers says. “Eurogroup for Animals wants to improve the welfare of animals in the farming sector. Pig farmers want this as well, and this makes me happy. This means that we can collaborate. The success of openness, cooperation and trust was proven in the Netherlands, but much remains to be done in the rest of Europe. The majority of EU countries continue to castrate, and have not yet started to phase out or end this practice. With the cooperation between Eurogroup for Animals and the Dutch steering group ‘Boars 2018’, we can contribute to the realisation of the European target that wants to bring an end to boar castration in the whole of Europe by 2018.”
Eurogroup for Animals
Eurogroup for Animals represents animal welfare organisations of nearly all EU Member States. Since its launch in 1980, the organisation has succeeded in encouraging the EU to adopt higher legal standards for animal protection. Eurogroup represents public opinion through its membership organisations across the Union, and has both the scientific and technical expertise to provide authoritative advice on issues relating to animal welfare.
The steering group ‘Boars 2018’ is a co-operation between LTO, NVV, NBHV, Dierenbescherming and the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Together, the Ministry and the Product Board for Livestock and Meat are financing the research projects.