FAWC 3/01

3 September 2001


"There can be no doubt that Farm Assurance Schemes have the potential to raise welfare standards for farm animals and to provide recognition of such higher standards to the consuming public. However, this potential needs to be developed further," said Dr Judy MacArthur Clark, Chairwoman of FAWC, at today's launch of its Interim Report on the Animal Welfare Implications of Farm Assurance Schemes.

The report follows extensive consultation with scheme managers, the agriculture industry, principal retailers, caterers, consumer groups and animal protection organisations.

It points out that farm assurance schemes offer a means whereby the link between animal production conditions and the final food product can be made clear to an increasingly discerning public. If this is to be achieved, it is essential that the assurances provided, not only by retailers but also by the catering and food processing industries, should be informative and trustworthy to command consumer confidence.

The report offers recommendations that FAWC will press to be adopted in advance of the publication of its final report on this topic in 2002. These include: the need for future government policy to encourage greater participation in farm assurance schemes; development of scheme standards, based on both science and practical experience, which will enhance the animal welfare components of farm assurance schemes; and the desirability for independent expert groups to be established to advise on the welfare standards in individual assurance schemes.

This Interim Report is intended to fuel debate on the issues it raises. Anyone wishing to comment on the Interim Report and the surrounding issues should send their views to the FAWC Secretariat at the address below.

Notes for Editors

1. The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) was established by the Government in 1979 to keep under review the welfare of farm animals on agricultural land, at market, in transit and at the place of slaughter; and to advise the Government of any legislative or other changes it considers necessary. Its remit was subsequently extended to include European developments.

2. Members serve in an independent capacity and not as representatives of any organisation or body. A list of the current members of the Council can be found on page 44 of the report and at the FAWC website.

3. In April 1999, FAWC was asked by Ministers to consider the implications of Farm Assurance Schemes for the welfare of the animals covered by such schemes. An interim report was published in August 2001 and a final report is planned for 2002.

4. Copies of the Interim Report on the Animal Welfare Implications of Farm Assurance Schemes are available, free of charge, from:

FAWC Secretariat
1A Page Street
London SW1P 4PQ
Telephone: 020 7904 6534
Facsimile: 020 7904 6993
E-mail: Charlene.Hull@defra.gsi.gov.uk
Website: www.fawc.org.uk