Animal Welfare in Circular Agriculture

Put animal welfare (including animal health) first in the transition to circular agriculture and utilise the transition to move forward in building a humane livestock farming sector. These are recommendations of the Council on Animal Affairs in the new advisory report ‘Animal Welfare in Circular Agriculture’.

Image: ©RDA

Implications for animal welfare

The Dutch agricultural sector needs to transition to circular agriculture. The Council has taken a closer look at the possible effects of the transition to circular agriculture on the welfare of farm animals (production animals). It turned out that little is yet known about the consequences for animals. Circular agriculture may have positive as well as negative implications for animal welfare. This applies to animal feed, housing and suitability of the animal in particular. More importantly, animal welfare does not automatically form part of the circular agriculture and good animal welfare practices (including animal health) should be a separately formulated and monitored requirement for the development of circular agriculture.

Utilise the transition to protect and improve animal welfare

The transition to circular agriculture represents a system change and requires time. The government, the business sector and NGOs should utilise that time to take several necessary steps to protect and improve animal welfare. They should invest in a research agenda and a Centre of Expertise for Animal Welfare and an advisory committee on Animal welfare in circular agriculture should be appointed. Furthermore, the Dutch government should strengthen the network and coordination in Europe in order to develop circular agriculture in a European context as well.