Animal Welfare and Swiss Agricultural Policy: What Does the Population Think?

When the Swiss people are polled regarding the objectives of agricultural policy, a key concern consistently arises: animal welfare. What actions can we take in response to these findings?

A recent survey conducted by Agroscope reveals an increased sensitivity of the Swiss population regarding the role of animal welfare in agricultural policy objectives. When over 1500 participants – representing the three linguistic regions – are asked about what they consider to be the priorities of agricultural policy, animal welfare stands out as the most cited objective.

A growing demand for the ethical treatment of animals in agriculture

The acknowledgment of the importance of animal welfare in agriculture reflects an evolution of attitudes and values in Swiss society, highlighting a growing demand for the ethical treatment of non-human animals in the agricultural sector. The awakening of the population to animal welfare offers a valuable opportunity to promote more righteous, responsible and respectful policies with regard to animal dignity.

The need to protect non-human animals is undeniable

Despite this awareness, animal welfare may still be at odds with other goals of agricultural policy – such as increasing agricultural income or reducing consumer prices – because of divergent priorities or economic interests. In turn, this raises the question of the weight given to each objective. The study’s results indicate that, even when animal welfare is in opposition to other priorities, the need to protect non-human animals remains undeniable, and about half of the participants continue to attribute significant importance to it.

Making animal welfare a priority in agriculture

It is crucial to act now in order to give substance to the importance of animal welfare in agriculture. We all play a crucial role in defining the priorities of agricultural policy. As consumers and voters, Swiss citizens have the power to influence political decisions and to voice their opinion in favour of animal welfare. This involves, for instance, our consumption choices and the adoption of a plant-based diet. However, our dietary choices are inherently linked to policies and large-scale retail. The protein transition can only happen through close collaboration between citizens, policymakers, as well as relevant sectors (agri-food, retail, …). This is why Sentience, since 2017, has launched food initiatives in cities such as Zurich, Bern, Lucerne and Basel. We subsequently launched our ambitious national campaign against intensive farming. During the vote on the Initiative to Abolish Factory Farming, Sentience succeeded in creating a link between agricultural organisations and animal rights organisations. This alliance allows us to promote, together, a more respectful agriculture towards non-human animals, and to create a political lobby in favour of animals in order to counter the industry. The massive support of over a million voters during the vote indicates that Sentience’s direction is widely supported by the Swiss people.

At Sentience, we have been advocating for the past ten years to place the interests of non-human animals at the centre of Swiss political and societal discourse. Join us in our fight. Let us work together to shape a more respectful agricultural policy towards non-human animals and a society in which they are protected from suffering.

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