I have received many thousands of emails regarding the vote on Minimum Standards for the Protection of Farm Rabbits, which will take place at the March 2017 plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. I am aware of the importance of the issue for many UK citizens.
At the plenary session, MEPs will not be voting on new legislation, but rather will be asking the European Commission to bring forward a legislative proposal on minimal standards for farm rabbits.
Currently in the EU farm rabbits are typically caged and provided with an area of less than the size of two ordinary A4 sheets of paper per rabbit, and with no opportunities to exercise and express their natural behaviour. This should rightly be a cause for concern. In addition, there is a high rate of disease and mortality amongst farm rabbits owing to factors such as infectious diseases which occur with high frequency in the unsuitable conditions of the cage system.
I also believe, as proposed by the International Finance Corporation, that improved animal welfare in general can enable a business to enhance efficiency and profitability. Unless we have minimum welfare standards for farmed rabbits there will be no incentive to improve the conditions in which farmed rabbits are kept across the EU.
Labour MEPs will support the report, and we will vote in favour of the amendment that legislative proposals on minimum standards for the protection of farm rabbits should be drawn up.