Charities expose funding for poor animal welfare

International banks and credit agencies are funding agricultural companies that do not meet the same welfare standards used in the EU, a report from three animal welfare charities has suggested.

A report released by Humane Society International, Compassion in World Farming and Four Paws claimed to have identified a Chinese pig producer as a recipient of investments totalling more than $30m, despite it confining breeding pigs in sow crates.  

The report said banks providing finance for the purpose of development were found to be investing in agribusiness companies based outside the EU, which were not operating to EU standards. It said the banks lacked “binding regulations” relating to animal welfare.

Encourage progress elsewhere

According to the charities, the progress that has been made in the EU should be encouraged elsewhere and not “undermined by EU investments”. Director of farm animal welfare at Humane Society International Chetana Mirle said: “Money from EU citizens has no business winding up in the pockets of farmers who don’t meet EU standards for the treatment of animals. EU farm animal welfare policies were not enacted to merely push these unacceptable practices out of the EU, but to reduce animal suffering and answer consumer demands for farm animal welfare.”

Meanwhile the director for campaigns at Four Paws Gabi Paun claimed: “We uncovered support for facilities with poor animal welfare standards abroad and are asking investment institutions to adhere to EU farm animal welfare standards.”

And director of campaigns at Compassion in World Farming Dil Peeling said the discovery contradicted the progress made by the EU. “When the EU has taken the democratic decision to curb the worst excesses of intensive farming, but European money is used to drive animal misery elsewhere, those lending institutions involved fail the EU, its citizens and, most of all, the animals trapped in the systems they fund,” said Peeling. “These institutions need to change their policies now.”

Improving standards

One of the finance companies identified in the report, European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said to MeatInfo.co.uk in a statement: “Every EBRD investment must lead to the improvement of a certain set of targets, which we agree with our partners. We define milestones and set time lines and always disburse our loans in tranches, subject to defined targets.

“As we mostly operate in countries outside the EU, these standards often do not (yet) apply and it is our goal to lead these countries towards internationally accepted and applied standards such as, for instance, the IFC standards. Animal welfare is very much at the forefront of EBRD policy developments in the agribusiness sector.

“We typically engage third-party experts for due diligence on such projects and any resulting action plan will include whatever recommendations are required to move the project towards compliance with EU requirements.”