JGAP Certificate Issued, not promising animal welfare
Some items became mandatory, which had not been in the initial proposal. An animal welfare issue for transportation was also added to the standard.
However, the overall standard is really loose in terms of animal welfare, just as we were concerned with.
Points for Management in light of Animal Welfare
- Must set a person who is responsible for care and management
- Must document policy and objectives including animal welfare issues
- Must improve [animal welfare] by conducting self-check at least once a year, the employer must acknowledge it, and record the directions for improvement.
- Rules for animal welfare must be included in contracts when outsourcing management except for farm operation, food safety, livestock sanitation, environmental protection, labor safety, and respect to human rights.
Details of Standards on Agriculture
* Excerpt the part related to animal welfare matters.
* See the full content here.
Basically, JGAP makes checking the checklist in the Animal Welfare-oriented Livestock Management Standards mandatory, and yet, does not state what the content of standards is. In other words, there would be no problem even if the scores were bad, but the checklist was checked, and efforts to make improvements were made.
Very loose standards
In addition, items in the checklist are something that should be taken for granted, if not, it would be considered abusive.
JGAP does not provide any reason for consumers to trust, or promise animal welfare, because the standard doesn’t consider something that has at least one “no” to be unqualified.
Furthermore, unlike China or Europe and the US, there is no law that is legally binding in Japan. The current Animal Protection Act is almost a dead act in regards to animals in agriculture. For instance, if an animal were purposely debilitate by not being provided water, the law would not function to punish for such a case.
The methods of slaughtering are the same. Debilitated chickens and pigs get slaughtered, not treated. The methods recommended by JGAP are from the standards given by the Ministry of Environment. As we know, the standards are very loose, there is no actual power to prosecute or enforce, and hence, any methods are acceptable.
Additionally, slaughtering is not included on the list, so if all the points show “yes” and no abuse is done on the farm, it would be ok, aside from what may happen in the slaughterhouse.
What needs to change is Act on Welfare and Management of AnimalsJGAP received subsidies of about one hundred million yen from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan to set standards and systems to practice. However, it is just a certificate, not enforcement. Not all farmers must acquire this certificate, and even the certificate does not prove much since the standards are so loose. What is required to gain trust from consumers is whether or not it’s actionable. Improving the Act on Welfare and Management by our suggestions would make it actionable, and prevent abuse and violence, and be made enforceable if the aforementioned occurs.
There is no doubt that the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan Agricultural Cooperatives, and farmers that do not commit any violence don’t want to be associated with abusive farmers.
Hence, we need “actionable law.”
We’re currently asking for a petition to improve the Act to submit to the diet via diet members.
Please sign the petition! (Only people in Japan and only paper)
Translation: Seika Kyoda
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