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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
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

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable