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HSI: Public money going to mistreatment of farm animals

Staff writer |
Despite growing opposition, international banks and export credit agencies of European Union Member States continue to support agricultural companies that fail to meet the EU’s farm animal welfare standards.

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That is the conclusion of a report by Humane Society International (HSI).

The new report follows on from earlier HSI work, highlighting support for large animal agriculture companies that don’t meet EU welfare standard. However, HSI said these institutions and agencies have provided new loans or insurances to these same or similar companies since 2013, often without adequately addressing their animal welfare violations.

Examples include Nyva Pereyaslavshchyny, one of the largest pork producers in Ukraine, which recently received more than US$50 million (£36m) from the World Bank Group and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to support further expansion, despite continuing to confine sows in retractive stalls for almost their entire lives (which would be forbidden in the EU).

Although since the initial HSI report was published, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank have introduced animal welfare standards, European agencies have still signed off on finance agreements that undermine EU standards.

Since 2013, the Agriculture Ministers of Denmark, Germany (and its regional ministers), the Netherlands and the Austrian government have called for government supported investments to comply with EU Animal Welfare Standards.

In 2014, the German Export Credit Agency provided 14.5 million Euros worth of insurance to a company exporting poultry cages to Ukraine.

In 2014, the IFC funded a project that is expected to help Shandong Hekangyuan Poultry Breeding company become China’s second largest duck producer and one of the largest broiler producers, without providing any information about the company’s compliance with animal welfare standards.

Europe’s farmers have been very outspoken about the need to support the industry’s moves to higher welfare standards, which often entails costs for businesses.

This was the case with the ban on barren battery cages: when the ban came into effect in January 2012 only 13 of the EU’s then-27 member states were compliant with the new law.

The Commission came under fire over a perceived light touch for non-compliant states and producers, who farmers in compliant countries said were undermining their efforts.

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