The organisations have launched a European Citizens Initiative (ECI), pressing for higher welfare standards for the 23 million cows in the EU. They aim to amass at least one million signatures from at least seven of the 27 EU Member States for a petition pressing for legislation in the area to be updated.
Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s, said: “We know that the health of cows comes from the satisfaction of basic needs, such as proper housing, good nutrition, good health and appropriate treatment. This is very important to us because happy cows produce delicious ice cream.”
CIWF, WSPA and Ben & Jerry’s claim that treatment of dairy cows varies between different EU Member States. While specific European provisions already protect certain other animals, cows receive no minimum protection and often suffer from health problems, poor living conditions and insufficient grazing conditions, they argue.
A great forgotten area
Charbonneaux Leopoldine, spokesman for CIWF in France, said: “This initiative allows us to raise public awareness to the major issue of animal welfare in dairy cows, a great forgotten area of European legislation.”
According to a YouGov poll of more than 1,000 French people for CIWF France, 73% want the milk they consume to come from cows with free access to pasture for much of the year.
A total of 87% of respondents said animal welfare was an important criterion when buying a dairy product and 52% considered it to be “very important”.
The poll also indicated that 89% of consumers believed that cows needed regulations to protect them and 81% said they would support a petition to that effect.
CIWF gave a public presentation on different farming methods for cows at an event in Paris on March 15.