Animal welfare: Switzerland will soon vote on the ban on intensive farming

The Swiss will vote on Sunday, September 25, 2022 to decide on the ban on intensive farming in this still very rural country and already endowed with some of the strictest animal welfare laws in the world.

If the ” yes “ were to prevail, the initiative — backed by left-wing parties, Greenpeace and other environmental organizations — would impose stricter minimum requirements for accommodation, care, outdoor access and practices slaughter. This would also reduce the maximum number of animals per pen.

Price increases

The government and parliament oppose the initiative, insisting that Switzerland already has strict laws.

The initiative “
goes too far,
Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset told reporters in June, saying the government for a quarter of a century had promoted a “Animal-friendly housing”.

Under current laws, farms cannot keep more than 1,500 fattening pigs, 27,000 chickens, or 300 calves, which essentially rules out the kinds of gigantic factory farms found in other countries.

“There is no factory farming in Switzerland”, insisted Marcel Dettling, farmer and parliamentarian from the radical right party UDC. Pointing out that limits in neighboring Germany, for example, can be 100 times higher, Swissinfo.ch was told the move would only serve to raise prices.

For Philipp Ryf, a manager of the yes campaign, when you have 27,000 chickens piled up and only 12% of the farm animals come out“We think it’s factory farming.”

He admitted to AFP that the law in Switzerland was “fairly strict compared to other countries”, but “we think we need to do more”. »

The government has warned that a victory of the “
Nope “
could increase prices and impact relationships with trading partners.

Indeed, the requirements would also apply to the import of animals and animal products, forcing Switzerland to breach its obligations in the World Trade Organization and renegotiate trade agreements, the government warns. .

If the ” yes “ were to prevail, the Swiss had to invest large sums in necessary inspections of foreign farms, he argues.


Towards the “no”

These arguments seem to be hitting home with a growing number of Swiss. The latest poll from the gfs.bern institute last week saw the camp of the ” Nope ” take the lead, with 52%.

Farmers themselves are particularly skeptical.

The latest poll showed that 62% of respondents in rural areas rejected the proposal, while 53% of city dwellers polled said they voted for it.

For Mr. Ryf the strong opposition in rural areas was largely due to a well-funded campaign, which claims the project is bad for agriculture.

The head of Sentience believes it would have the opposite effect, why breeders would be given a 25-year period to adapt and financial assistance.

If the main agricultural organization in Switzerland is far from opposing the initiative, small farmers will develop it. But most are discreet to avoid trouble.

For David Rotzler, who owns a small livestock farm scattered in Sonvilier in northern Switzerland, it is not a question of imposing the point of view of city dwellers on the countryside.

He told the Journal du Jura that he supported the initiative because if “Animal welfare does not depend on the size of the farm, but on the farmer, however it is easier to take care of the animals when you are smaller”.

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