Polish president strongly opposes animal protection bill

Marcin Obara/PAP

Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Friday that he is strongly against an planned amendment to animal protection laws that bans fur breeding and exports of ritual slaughter meat.

"I absolutely disagree with this bill, I will do my best to prevent its provisions from taking effect. These regulations were poorly prepared, at the wrong time," Duda told a congress of Gazeta Polska clubs (reader groups of the right-wing Gazeta Polska daily - PAP), held online due to the epidemic.

The bill, sponsored by the Law and Justice (PiS) party, the key member of the three-party ruling United Right coalition, sparked widespread protests among farmers as well as meat and poultry producers who say the new regulations will substantially undermine their subsistence.

"There has not been a single farming community in recent weeks, be it Polish farmers or food processors or trade unionists, or any other group that would have positively assessed this law," the president said, as cited by the website niezalezna.pl.

He added that everyone asked him for a veto or to refer the bill to the Constitutional Court in order to block its entry into force.

Duda also said that Polish farmers and food producers voted for him because they had confidence that he would care for Polish agriculture. "Their interests translate into the interests of consumers, because they produce Poland's food in Poland," he said.

A legislative idea, dubbed "The pro-animal five", five proposals for the protection of animal rights, was presented in early September by PiS president Jaroslaw Kaczynski and Michal Moskal of a PiS-affiliated youth conservative group. The proposed legislation also foresees a ban on using animals in entertainment, increases the remit of NGOs, provides for more regular inspections of animal shelters and brings an end to keeping dogs on short chains.

The proposed legislation exposed visible signs of differences inside the ruling coalition as many of its MPs voted against the animal protection draft law which passed the lower house in late September only thanks to opposition votes. Consequently, PiS suspended 15 of its rebel MPs, including the agriculture minister.

In mid-October, the Senate passed several dozen amendments to the bill. Seven PiS senators were against the adoption of the proposed legislation. The PiS leadership has not yet decided on the consequences for those who broke the discipline in the vote.

New Agriculture Minister Grzegorz Puda said in early November that the government is working on a new animal-protection bill to replace an earlier bill that caused divisions in the ruling coalition and led to farmers protesting on the streets. He said that the new draft law will contain most of the provisions included in the previous bill. An planned feature of the new bill is the foundation of a National Animal Protection Inspectorate to oversee animal breeding and livestock welfare. 

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