Animal welfare: can we do without intensive agriculture?

Véronique Sanson united her powerful voice with the appeal “to end intensive agriculture” published this Thursday. She joined a choir of 180 personalities, including Pierre Niney, Mélanie Laurent, Nagui, but also the Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard or the famous butcher Hugo Desnoyer.

“Ending intensive agriculture can prevent 80% of animal suffering in France,” says Sébastien Arsac, co-founder of L214, the association behind this call. Chickens in tiny cages, live castrated piglets, male chicks crushed at birth… all these are very widespread practices on farms where thousands of birds or hundreds of pigs are concentrated.

But is it simply possible to eat in France without industrial agriculture? “Without a doubt,” replies the butcher Hugo Desnoyer. I’ve been trying to get this message across for twenty-one years, to eat less and better meat. As for me, I’m happy with two good steaks a week instead of twice a day with…hormone shots. “Every French person eats an average of 80 kg of meat a year.

In the broiler industry (Anvol), where intensive farming is greater, we defend ourselves against any bad practice: “The French sector is very controlled, it is also in the process of implementing an animal welfare monitoring tool. With two buildings per farm on average, we remain on human scale compared to Scandinavian countries that have six on average,” specifies Anne Richard, director of Anvol.

Consumers willing to pay double?

Another issue is the price. “Are consumers willing to pay two to three times more? Nothing is less certain, believes Étienne Gangneron, vice-president of the National Federation of Farmers (FNSEA). For example, organic pork, which is traded at 3.50 euros per kilo for the breeder, against 1.60 euros for conventional pork, has no way out. It is estimated that no more than 30% of the animal is valued organically. »

Moselle cow farmer Christian Perrin is annoyed: “Industrial farmers are scapegoats, they had to borrow to invest in infrastructure. My colleagues who make pork or chicken have no choice in terms of the selling price of the goods, he assures us. We don’t ask for the end of a model with a snap of the fingers. »

In detail, the L214 appeal calls for “an immediate moratorium on industrial agriculture”, that is, there is no more authorization for new intensive farms. And support to help those who depend on this production method “as was done in Israel when the country banned the force-feeding of foie gras”.

An “animal welfare” label

Whether the manifesto succeeds or not, there are already avenues for consumers who want to favor less intensive agriculture. You can choose labels, “organic meat” or “red label”. Chickens so labeled must have access to the outdoors for part of their life. For cattle, these labels are synonymous with pasture. On the other hand, none of this for the red label pigs who live in cloisters and are mutilated as elsewhere. When choosing your eggs, you can look at the codes written on the boxes and shells: 0 or 1 means free range.

Since last year, an “animal welfare” label has been created by three associations (OABA, CIWF and Animal Rights Foundation) and the Casino group. Other major players such as Galinhas Loué joined this initiative. “It’s a very interesting label because it takes into account the entire life of the animal: creation, transport and slaughter”, emphasizes Sébastien Arsac.

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