Report Highlights Health Benefits Of High Quality Farming

Alyn Smith MEP, Scottish full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, has welcomed a new study on the nutritional impacts of produce from animals reared in higher welfare system such as extensive pasture farming and free-range chicken.

The report, produced by the internationally renowned animal welfare organisation Compassion in World Farming, and based on a wide range of scientific studies, has shown that such systems can produce meat and eggs with less fat (up to 50% less fat for free-range and organic chicken), higher levels of Omega 3 (which helps prevent serious diseases like cancer and heart disease, and higher levels of antioxidants: such as up to 200% more Vitamin E in free range pig meat. Iron levels are over three times higher in free range pig meat.

Compassion in World Farming has written to DG SANCO pointing out the health benefits of animals who eat natural forage and have higher activity levels.

Alyn said:

"With CAP reform just around the corner, and with tough economic times for our livestock producers, it's more vital than ever that we get the word out about the importance of supporting the type of high quality, animal-friendly farming that we have in Scotland.

"With growing pressure from certain lobby groups to drastically reduce meat production in an attempt to reduce carbon emissions, we need to speak out with the message that not all meat production systems are the same.  The extensive pasture systems we have in Scotland produce healthier meat, are better for the animals, contribute to carbon sequestration and help keep the landscape in a good condition. That's why it's important that reports such as these are widely disseminated.

"Our ability to maintain an indigenous capacity to produce food is under threat, from a variety of sources: such as those who would eliminate direct payments to farmers, the power of retailers in the food chain, and the disappearance of essential ancillary services like slaughterhouses. The elimination of such capacity would only result in greater imports, from production systems abroad which do not meet our standards, particularly on animal welfare.

"It's also vital that we properly enforce EU animal welfare regulations to ensure our producers are not undercut by unfair competition from inferior meat. As many as nine countries may still not meet the deadline on sow stalls on 1 January next year.  The Commission needs to take much tougher action to ensure compliance."

The report is available here:
http://www.ciwf.org.uk/includes/documents/cm_docs/2012/n/nutritional_benefits_of_higher_welfare_animal_products_report_june2012.pdf

The Executive summary is here:
http://www.ciwf.org.uk/includes/documents/cm_docs/2012/n/nutritional_benefits_of_higher_welfare_animal_products_summary_of_keyfindings_2012.pdf