Europe plan for ban on veal crates

KThe European Commission will tomorrow propose a Europe-wide ban on the raising of veal calves in crates.

But, in a substantial concession to veal-producing countries, farmers already in the veal business will be allowed to use crates for up to 12 years. Campaigners are expected to reject this transition period as far too long.

None the less, the Brussels move represents a considerable victory for public protests - particularly in Britain - against a farming method viewed by animal welfare campaigners as barbaric. The proposal also represents a victory for the former Secretary of State for Agriculture, William Waldegrave, who lobbied for action at European level.

Scientists and veterinary experts, asked to study the evidence, have recommended the Europe-wide ban, which Britain now hopes will help end protests against live animal exports to the continent. Veal crates have been outlawed in the UK since 1990.

According to the proposal, which will be put to EU agriculture ministers next week, it will be illegal from 1998 for farmers to start using crates for the first time. To allow producers time to adapt to other rearing methods, existing holdings can continue to use individual pens until the end of 2007.

The proposed ban faces bitter opposition from the French, who are the biggest veal producers in the EU. Of the 6 million calves raised in crates in Europe, 80 per cent are in France. There are no plans to provide cash compensation to farmers, according to a draft of the Commission proposal, seen by the Independent.

The French have the support of Italy but will not have enough votes in the Council of Ministers to block the measure, which can be decided by majority vote. Commission officials are confident of majority approval.

The producers say that cramped timber crates to restrict the calves' movement, and a diet of milk-feed, are required if veal eaters are to get the tender white meat they expect. Meat turns redder and tougher if the animals are allowed to exercise. Scientists, however, have concluded that it is abnormal and cruel to deprive calves of "social interaction", of space for normal movements and some roughage in their diet.

EU officials dismissed industry warnings that the market for veal will collapse or that the price of beef, already hit by the "mad cow disease" scare, will plummet if the ban is approved. "The market for veal will still be there. The French and Italians may just have to get used to rosy veal for a change" said one Brussels official.

Crates, which, like battery hen cages, are a typical feature of intensive farming, are of necessity tiny to restrict movement, prevent muscle development and stop calves grazing on anything other than the milk they are fed.

According to one expert, the system induces a type of anaemia in the animals. But supporters including representatives of the feed industry claim the calves are humanely treated, are fed and watered carefully and are not in pain or misery.

Thousands of people took part in peaceful protests this year - in sharp contrast to animal rights extremists who blockaded ferry ports and fought with police - to try to persuadeMr Waldegrave to take action.

Demonstrators marched slowly in front of lorry loads of sheep, ministers were sent parcel bombs through the post and internecine rivalry broke out between rival groups of animal rights campaigners.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Arts and Entertainment
(L-R) Amanda Peet as Tina Morris, Melanie Lynskey as Michelle Pierson, Abby Ryder Fortson as Sophie Pierson, Mark Duplass as Brett Pierson and Steve Zissis as Alex Pappas in Togetherness
TV First US networks like HBO shook up drama - now it's comedy's turn
Travel
Pool with a view: the mMarina Bay Sands in Singapore
travel From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
News
The will of Helen Beatrix Heelis, better known as Beatrix Potter, was among those to be archived
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
News
Nigel Farage: 'I don't know anybody in politics as poor as we are'
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect