We work with many NGOs and influencers outside the animal protection movement and we also do political outreach to combat factory farming.
Correcting a mistake in the German translation of the EU Pig Directive
The EU Pig Directive (Council Directive 2008/120/EC) stipulates: “The accommodation for pigs must be constructed in such a way as to allow the animals to have access to a lying area physically and thermally comfortable …”. However, the official German translation said “adequate” instead of “comfortable”. The German translation is the legally binding text for Germany and Austria.
This mistake has gone unnoticed by the movement for seven years. It only came to our attention because we spoke with CIWF about fully slatted floors and were surprised about their strong choice of words saying that the use of fully slatted floors is breaching EU law.
After we noticed the error, we reached out to the EU Commission, lobbied for changes, and finally found the person responsible for correcting mistakes like these. The person used our suggestion for correcting the translation. The correction has become official in February 2016.
At this point, it is difficult to say what the actual outcome for pigs will be. The German Ministry of Agriculture is admitting that fully slatted floors are problematic in terms of animal welfare, but refuses to take action. We have filed an EU complaint because of that (no decision was made yet). We are also working with VGT Austria on this issue.
Official petition against factory farming
In 2014, we used the petition platform of the German government to launch a petition to end factory farming. 50,000 signatures allow the petitioner to get an invitation to the Bundestag. We reached more than 99,000 signatures and had a formal discussion in the Bundestag in December 2014 (video).
In 2016, the Committee on Petitions finally reached a decision:
- The petition was forwarded to the German government. This means that the government should take the petition into account when drafting new legislation. The ministry of agriculture also has to formally reply to the petition (this has not happened yet).
- The petition was also forwarded to the European Parliament because the topic is also relevant to the EU (no reply yet).
This was more than we hoped for, as the original goals were only to show the government that factory farming is an important topic to the people of Germany and to further the political discussion around factory farming.
“Wir haben es satt!” demonstrations
A broad coalition of NGOs organizes an annual demonstration for better farming called “Wir haben es satt!” (“We are fed up!”). Our role is to emphasize the need to end factory farming and to support plant-based alternatives to animal products. In 2015, a record 50,000 people attended the demonstration and in 2016, 20,000 people took part. A video and pictures can be found here.
Working with consumer groups to accept reasonable vegan labelling
In our work with supermarket chains we found that some chains labelled vegan products as vegetarian when the products might contain trace amounts of dairy or eggs. The reason was that an influential consumer protection group was calling it misleading to have “vegan” products with (potential) trace amounts of dairy or eggs. Many vegans were confused about the vegetarian labels and did not buy the products, thereby limiting their selection and making a vegan lifestyle more difficult. In 2016, we worked with VEBU and were able to convince the consumer group to take a less radical stance on vegan labelling.
Influencing influencers and shaping political/agricultural debates
We are working with influencers and experts in different fields relevant to animal protection. In 2015, we gave 14 presentations, seminars and panel discussions to these target groups. In the first eight months of 2016, that number was eight.
We are also writing articles and giving interviews to media that is especially consumed by influencers and experts (14 in 2015 and 8 in 2016, so far).
We also help exploring the possibilities for the expansion of vegan (organic and non-organic) farming. In 2015, we helped with the first conference on vegan organic farming in Germany in ten years. This year, we are helping with the establishment of an international association for vegan farmers. Our interest in this topic is based on showing how cost-effective agriculture can work without any use of animals and on its potential to reduce insect suffering (provided it exists).
Further, we (successfully) joined forces with the Humane Society International to make farm animal welfare a more important topic when export credits are granted for CAFOs.
Finally, we joined forces with several German animal protection groups and hosted several meetings in our offices in order to speak with a more uniform voice when it comes to the forming of and lobbying for political goals. We also composed a political position paper, co-hosted a parliamentary evening, and now have regular meetings with a representative in the ministry of agriculture, together with these organizations. Although the topic of plant-based alternatives is not on the core agenda of many of these groups, they help giving the issue more political weight.