EU legislation detrimental to rabbit breeders in smaller EU states – Sant

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EU legislation detrimental to rabbit breeders in smaller EU states - SantMaltese MEP Alfred Sant told the European Parliament that the proposed EU legislation on rabbit rearing in EU member states is detrimental to rabbit breeders in the smaller EU member states.

Dr Sant said that binding rabbit breeding operators in the EU small member states to follow new regulations while submitting them to new controls would decrease their competitiveness.

“It is unacceptable to place these small scale operations in such a situation. Rabbit breeders in small EU member states are already experiencing market spasmodic shrinkages as well as unfair competition, including from non-EU sources,” the MEP said.

“Given that from a health perspective, the consumption of rabbit meat is to be recommended, rather than consider further regulation of the small scale sector, what we need are new measures, national and European, to promote their activities,” said Dr Sant when explaining his reservations before voting in favour of the motion

Minimum Standards for the protection of farm rabbits – The motion authorises the European Commission to draft legislation setting out minimum standards for the protection of farm rabbits. “This could be the first step towards banning cage-farming of rabbits, as the report is calling for the practice to go the same way as battery hen production,” Dr Sant said.

“My vote for this resolution basically underlines my agreement with all measures that would enhance the welfare and living conditions of rabbits being reared commercially for their meat. However it is subject to the reservation that I disagree completely that there should be common European legislation to regulate the commercial rearing of rabbits.”

Dr Sant added that, “experience in other sectors has shown that such regulation ends up reinforcing the commercial advantage of larger scale enterprises to the detriment of smaller units. Especially in the smaller member states, many of the smaller units are traditionally run on a family basis. Their operations follow inherited practices. The markets they service are basically families living in the neighbourhood of the farm.”

Rabbits are the fourth most farmed animal in the world, with an estimated 340 million rabbits slaughtered annually in the EU.

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