Work on amendments to animal protection bill under way - minister

The government is working on a new animal-protection bill to replace an earlier bill that caused divisions in the government and led to farmers protesting on the streets.

The agriculture ministry said on Wednesday that the government was now taking into account amendments made by the Senate, the upper house of parliament.

Attempts to introduce an earlier animal welfare bill, which would have led to tight regulations on the slaughter of animals according to religious practice, ran into fierce opposition from some Law and Justice members and farmers.

They feared that the bill, if passed, would harm the lucrative export market of meat prepared to religious standards. Their opposition to the bill triggered a crisis in the government that for a while threatened its future.

Agriculture Minister Grzegorz Puda said that when analysing the Senate’s amendments to the new bill, three major aspects were taken into account: the interests of farmers and entrepreneurs, domestic and foreign legal regulations and religious freedom.

"The interest of farmers should be understood as increasing the competitiveness of Polish meat,” he said. "We know that from year to year in the EU the demand for meat obtained from animals killed without unnecessary suffering is increasing."

In his opinion, in order to develop Polish agriculture, it is necessary to think ahead and introduce changes that will help increase the competitiveness of Polish meat on the EU market.

The minister added that the EU's Green Deal will create new opportunities for the development of Polish agriculture thanks to subsidies for environmentally friendly practices. This includes animal welfare, focused primarily on the method of slaughter.

Puda went on to say that the draft law will contain most of the provisions included in the previous bill. An unusual feature of the bill is the foundation of a National Animal Protection Inspectorate to oversee animal breeding and livestock welfare.