Background of the AWARE project

Products of animal origin have a significant share on the organic market. During recent years, the national and international view has been increasingly focused on animal protection and animal welfare in its broadest sense. Society is deeply concerned about ethical aspects of animal husbandry in conventional and organic agriculture. For many consumers it is important to know under which conditions farm animals are kept. They prefer food produced by animals living under suitable and good conditions.

The European Regulation on organic production No. 834/2007 as well as standards of private label organisations prescribe that organic farmers “shall observe a high level of animal welfare respecting species-specific needs.” Nevertheless, deficiencies and irregularities with regard to the welfare conditions have been found during recent years also on organic farms. This undermines consumer confidence, the basis for further sustainable market development of organic production. Thus, animal welfare-related issues become increasingly important for organic inspectors.

All of the five organisations involved in this project are highly respected organisations and include specialists in inspection and certification of organic livestock farms. Organic management aims to deliver excellent animal welfare and independent annual inspection and certification aims to confirm this and provide a guarantee that animals have a ‘good life’ that meets the high expectations of consumers who buy organic animal products. Any failure to deliver on this aspect risks undermining the reputation of organic inspection and certification through the EU. 

The problem that we will address is that the legally defined standards for delivering welfare are resourced based e.g. space per animal in housing, type of housing, type of feed, are becoming outdated. Experience and recent scientific knowledge indicates that this approach alone is now insufficient.  A new scientifically informed evaluation of the animals to determine their ‘welfare outcomes’ is more meaningful in underpinning the inspection process and aiding communication of any deficiencies to farmers in a way that they can understand and act upon.

In short: Animal welfare improvement is the purpose of our AWARE project! 


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