Anttila promises extensive improvements in conditions on pig farms
Shortcomings increase, but more inspections have been conducted
No great changes have been recorded in the number of reports on violations of animal welfare regulations at Finnish farms in recent years. However, the proportion of serious violations has increased, says Taina Mikkonen, head of the Animal Health and Welfare division of the Finnish Food Safety Authority (EVIRA).
In the worst of cases, animals suffering from neglect can be ordered to be put down. In less serious cases, the keeper of the animals can be given instructions on improving conditions.
Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Sirkka-Liisa Anttila (Centre) says that the growth in the number of serious shortcomings stems from increased exhaustion on the part of agricultural producers.
Anttila says that the situation in Finland has recently improved by leaps and bounds. A new law on veterinary care took effect at the beginning of this month. The new law includes provisions for a health care contract for production animals. Anttila says that there are 2,364 pig farms in Finland, 95 per cent of which are now under such contracts.
Under the terms of the contract, a veterinarian visits the facility to check on the living conditions of the animals.
“I sent the bill back for more preparation nearly two years ago specifically because I wanted to emphasise animal welfare”, Anttila said on Wednesday.
Most cattle farms do not have a health care contract, which Anttila attributes to a shortage of veterinarians. She says that about 200 more veterinarians would be needed to bring all units raising production animals within the framework of the agreement.
Anttila believes that the system will make it easier to detect possible exhaustion among farmers more easily than before.
Swedish animal welfare activists this week released pictures of squalid conditions at pig farms in Sweden. The pictures were similar to ones taken in Finland by local activists two years ago. The pictures showed pigs in crowded conditions biting each other; injured animals appeared to be suffering.
The Finnish animal welfare organisation Fauna says that pictures taken two years ago at Finnish pig farms, which can be seen at the website tehotuotanto.net, are still topical.
Anttila insists that conditions have improved considerably.
The animal rights campaign from two years ago led to police investigations at 73 farms. No criminal proceedings took place, says the head of the investigation, Ari-Pekka Lehtinen on Wednesday.
Conditions at a pig farm run by Anttila’s daughter were also looked into and shortcomings noticed at the farm were rectified.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Three Finnish pig farms may face charges over violation of animal welfare legislation (4.3.2008)
Police to investigate reports of serious animal cruelty at Finnish farms (30.11.2007)
tehotuotanto.net: "The reality of Finnish factory farming revealed!"
Finnish Food Safety Authority (EVIRA)