Celebrating Commitments for Farm Animals
Yesterday, I was delighted to be in Brussels in the majestic ballroom of the Concert Noble at one of the highlights in Compassion’s annual calendar, our Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards, these celebrate food business leaders making commitments to and improving farm animal welfare. It essentially showcases the outcome of key partnerships between Compassion and the corporate community, resulting in exciting new commitments to raise standards and give animals better lives.
During a truly inspiring afternoon hosted by vet, TV presenter and author, Emma Milne, it was heartening to see a total of 50 awards being presented to companies spanning the globe.
These commitments are set to benefit the lives of over 39 million animals each year.
There’s undoubtedly a major shift happening across the food industry towards higher welfare, a shift that’s being driven by consumer concern, not only about animal welfare, but also the effects of industrial food production on the planet.
I was very proud to introduce our new Sustainable Food and Farming Awards. These were inspired by our ground-breaking Extinction and Livestock conference in 2017, which brought together the worlds of animal welfare, conservation and the environment.
The award recognises businesses that are taking steps to produce meat, dairy and eggs in ways that protect, improve and restore wildlife and the environment.
The ‘Corporate’ Sustainable Food and Farming Award went to Chippindale (Morrisons). They are a free range egg company that supplies (and is also owned by) Morrisons. They have partnered with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and require each of their supplying farmers to plant an acre of wildflower meadow for every laying hen range, boosting bee numbers by up to 55%.
The ‘Producer’ Sustainable Food and Farming Award went to Simon Cutter of Model Farm. Simon puts soil health at the centre of his business, planting 400 of its 500 acres with wildflower meadows when he first took on the farm. It’s a low-input, low-cost, sustainable and nature-friendly way of producing beef and lamb; enabling wildlife to come flooding back and restoring soil fertility.
Overall there were 11 Good Egg Awards, two Good Chicken Awards, three Good Turkey Awards, three Good Calf Awards, two Good Dairy Commendations, two Good Sow Commendations and three Good Rabbit Commendations, in addition to 17 producer awards in China. There was also a special Rabbit Innovation Award to Eleveurs et Bien in France and a Cage Free Award to Ella’s Kitchen in the UK, both kindly supported by the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust.
The Rabbit Innovation Award recognised the development and launch of a new cage-free housing system for rabbits. The rabbits are housed in large pens that feature a burrow-style area, allowing them to hide and rest, and plenty of space to hop and play.
This year we also presented our biennial Retailer Awards which stem from Compassion’s Supermarket Survey and confidential analysis of retailers’ policies, production systems, practices and welfare outcomes. I am delighted to report that Waitrose & Partners were awarded both the Best Retailer Marketing Award and the overall Best Retailer Award, beating competition from 27 other retailers from the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Scandinavia.
It felt especially momentous to be in Brussels, where we launched our biggest ever campaign last September – our European Citizens’ Initiative to call for an end to the use of cages for all farm animals across the EU. Our campaign sees Compassion standing shoulder to shoulder with more than 170 organisations across the EU – uniting the movement with a single goal to End the Cage in modern agriculture.
We’ve already collected over 1 million signatures – the level required to trigger a full European parliamentary review, debate and vote on this issue – with 3 months still to go before the official closure of our signature collection phase.
I’m so proud of the many citizens and organisations across Europe supporting our call for farm animals to be respected as sentient beings and to have lives worth living.
I’m also incredibly proud of the food companies leading the way towards food systems that are not only compassionate to farm animals, but to the state of our planet and its precious biodiversity too.
Thank you again to all involved in making our 2019 Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards such a success.
And once again, many congratulations to this year’s award-winners; nearly 40 million animals a year will now live better lives as a result.