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 Compassion in World Farming 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.
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 ProVeg (formerly German Vegetarian Association) 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 2017, we gave 29 presentations, seminars and panel discussions to these target groups. We also write articles and give interviews to media that is especially consumed by influencers and experts.
Since 2013, our publications of detailed and well-sourced online articles on animal production have led to an increase in the number of questions we have received about animal agriculture, in particular from journalists (print/TV). Since 2015, 15 book authors have used our articles on factory farming in particular for their own work. Ultimately, this interest among the media and authors in the information that we provide is likely to anchor the concept of animal welfare in public debate over the long term, bolstered with factually correct and verifiable content.
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.
Presentations, work groups and involvement in alliances and lobby groups
With our own speakers and work group activities (including presentations, involvement in expert and podium discussions, workshops), we have for many years been steadily, and to a small but highly targeted extent, nurturing interest among the public and, above all, industry professionals in issues relating to animal welfare and diet. We focus primarily on events attended exclusively or largely by multipliers relevant to our foundation in order to inform them about the relevant topics, encourage them to undertake their own activities within our areas of action or provide additional support for these activities, acquire them as potential collaborative partners and as a way for us to gain additional knowledge from people outside our foundation.
We have also steadily intensified our involvement in animal welfare and animal rights alliances over the years, with whom we act at a political and business level. Examples of our work here in 2017 include multiple animal welfare demands of the “Bündnis für Tierschutzpolitik” (“animal welfare alliance”) directed at politicians, a jointly organized event with party representatives, scientists and researchers in the run-up to the 2017 parliamentary elections and two position papers, aimed at the food retailing industry, on the raising of animal welfare standards.
We also frequently work with key players to promote vegan agricultural approaches. In addition to the initially varied forms of dialog and (event) support that we engaged in over previous years, we became involved in 2016 in the formulation of farming guidelines specifically for biocyclic-vegan farming and, since 2017, have been a member (with voting rights) of the newly founded Verein Biozyklisch-Veganer Anbau e. V. (and the biocyclic-vegan guidelines and certification committee). In 2017, in cooperation with the Fördergemeinschaft Ökologischer Landbau (organic farming support association), we also organized a special evening event for the public on biocyclic-vegan farming. And last but not least, we are always publishing articles and/or press releases informing the public about the latest news and developments in this area.