Thursday, May 16, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Grazing rights may be eliminated

Published 6 May 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Today, Swedish cows have the right to graze outdoors for at least six hours a day during the summer.

An ongoing inquiry into how animal welfare laws affect the competitiveness of Swedish food producers in the EU is discussing the possibility of abolishing grazing rights for cows, according to media reports. One of the proposals is to remove grazing rights for dairy cows that graze freely indoors – a proposal that has been heavily criticized by the Swedish Veterinary Association and researchers.

Dairy cows currently have the right to graze outdoors for at least six hours a day during the summer, a provision introduced in 1988 following a campaign by author Astrid Lindgren. However, the rules do not apply to bulls, only to cows. The question of whether or not cows should have grazing rights has been debated extensively in recent years, with the Swedish Farmers’ Union (LRF), among others, lobbying for cows to be deprived of grazing rights and instead allowed to roam indoors, which organic farmers have called “shameful”.

The issue of grazing rights was raised in the government’s report “Strengthening the competitiveness of food producers and strong animal welfare”. According to the Bonnier newspaper DN, they are considering abolishing grazing rights for dairy cows that roam freely indoors. Two independent sources have confirmed to the newspaper that there is a far-reaching discussion about the abolition.

– This is a very central part of the Swedish Animal Welfare Act. We know from a lot of research that cows feel good when they go out to pasture, says Per Jensen, professor of ethology at Linköping University, according to the tax-funded SVT.

Last year also saw the start of a study in which 1,500 cows will be kept indoors for 18 months to see how they are affected by not being able to go outside, a study conducted by the Federation of Swedish Farmers (Lantbrukarnas Riksförbund, LRF) together with Växa Sverige. The study is expected to be completed later this year.

Protests and petitions

On Saturday, Greenpeace and Project 1882 (Djurens Rätt) also carried out an action during a cow release in Uppland, informing visitors about the most likely upcoming deterioration for cows, according to Natursidan. In the Schibsted newspaper SvD, Sweden’s environmental and animal welfare organizations, consumer associations and the Swedish Veterinary Association wrote an opinion piece criticizing the proposal to abolish grazing rights and urging the government instead to maintain and expand grazing rights for cows.

In addition, the organizations and associations have launched the campaign Jag vill beta (I want to graze), encouraging Swedes to sign the petition. At the time of writing, the campaign has nearly 50,000 signatures and will be presented to rural affairs minister Peter Kullgren in June.

Kullgren has chosen not to comment on DN’s information, but writes in an e-mail reply to SVT that he “does not want to speculate on what proposals the investigator will make”.

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