Switzerland voted against a ban on factory farming in a referendum held yesterday (Sunday, September 25).
The country made history by asking the public to decide on whether farms should have tighter restrictions on things like housing, care, and slaughter practices. The notion, however, was rejected by 62.86 percent of voters.
According to reports, there had been concern among the public about what a ban could mean for food prices. It was also feared that there would be an influx of foreign products being sold, despite the fact that the ban would have meant imports would have had to conform to the new standards.
There had also been opposition from farmers’ unions, who argued that the standards of Swiss animal welfare are already high.
The number of people who voted against was considerably more than what surveys had predicted. Canton Basel City was the only one of 26 regions to vote in favor of the notion.
The notion was originally started by the Swiss anti-speciesist organization Sentience Politics.
Speaking about the result, the organization’s co-founder Philipp Ryf told Plant Based News (PBN): “With the initiative, we have managed to initiate a long overdue dialogue about what we eat, and we were able to highlight the dire conditions in Swiss farms that continue to being massively downplayed. That is an important success.”
“In the next 25 years, Swiss agriculture will and must change significantly, a view shared by the Swiss government. We will continue to campaign for an animal-friendly and sustainable agriculture, and we look forward to the day where factory farms are a thing of the past.”
Pro Veg International, a vegan NGO, has said that it’s “disappointed” by the result. It added, however, that it believes the referendum will “raise awareness about the urgent need to rein in intensive animal farming.”
“Not only does factory farming impact the welfare of animals, it is also responsible for high greenhouse gas emissions, which need to be reduced in order to avoid climate chaos,” Jasmijn de Boo, the organization’s vice president, told PBN. “We hope that other countries will be inspired by the initiative in Switzerland and launch their own initiatives to directly address the environmental damage caused by factory farming.”
Switzerland’s animal welfare
Speaking after the vote, Swiss interior minister Alain Berset said that the public had “judged that the dignity of animals is respected in our country and that their well-being is sufficiently protected by current legislation”.
Switzerland has several Animal welfare laws.
There are upper limits on how many of each farmed animal can be kept at a time: a maximum of 300 veal calves, 1,500 pigs, or 18,000 hens. Animals must also be stunned before being killed.
Julika Kitzi of Swiss Animal Protection previously told SwissInfo, however, that animals often don’t live “as the advertising suggests” on Swiss farms.
“Many people are not aware that in Switzerland it’s legal to keep a fattening pig on an area of less than one square meter – without bedding,” she added.