March 4. 2024. 7:04

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NGOs disown Commissioner’s ‘greenwashed’ flagship pigmeat report

Green groups are up in arms over a recent Commission-drafted report on the sustainability of the pigmeat sector, slamming it as a greenwashing exercise and disowning the conclusions which purportedly reflect the views of the expert group of which they were part.

The report, which is due to be presented by EU agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski at a meeting of EU agriculture ministers on Monday (20 March), is the outcome of a series of meetings of the European pigmeat reflection group.

The group was first announced by Wojciechowski, who has been vocal on the issue of pigmeat sustainability, back in February 2022.

Its aim was to review the sustainability of the pigmeat sector, from socio-economic dynamics to environmental and climate challenges, especially in light of the economic fallout caused by a series of crises, including the COVID pandemic and the further spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Europe.

The report lists a number of areas for improvement, such as the need to promote cooperation between pig producers and the rest of the supply chain, better training and knowledge-sharing, as well as more encouragement for member states to use all the tools at their disposal in the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to increase the sector’s sustainability.

Its conclusions purportedly reflect the inputs from a reflection group made up of stakeholders from 20 different organisations, including EU farmers’ associations, NGOs and industry players, as well as representatives from the 27 member states.

“The European Pigmeat Reflection Group is advocating that the recommendations from the Group be taken on board by all relevant stakeholders and institutions and implemented at EU and national level,” the report reads.

Pushback from NGOs

But the two NGOs involved in the consultation process – the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and campaign group Eurogroup for Animals – have since publicly rejected the report, stressing their views were not reflected in the final report.

EU agriculture chief under pressure over bid to trim intensive pig farming

Janusz Wojciechowski, the EU’s agriculture commissioner, wants to crack down on the environmental impact of intensive animal farming, but apart from support from animal welfare groups, his calls have so far met with mixed reactions.

“The consultation process was a greenwashing exercise, we provided detailed input at all stages and none of it is reflected in the report,” EEB’s Célia Nyssens-James, criticising the outcome as “completely out of touch with the Green Deal”.

“[It] could not be any more stereotypically focused on a business-as-usual dogma,” she said, adding that “industrial pigmeat lobbies could have written this without the Commission’s help”.

The report carries a disclaimer that it “does not fully reflect the EEB’s position that could not be reconciled with a majority view” – which Nyssens-James calls a “major understatement”.

Likewise, Ines Ajuda, farm animals programme leader at campaign group Eurogroup for Animals, told EURACTIV that they “disagree with several of the points made”.

“The report supposedly reflects the majority view of the reflection group, of which Eurogroup for Animals is part, however we completely disagree with it,” she said, stressing that the group has “neither approved nor been consulted prior to the publication of this report”.

As such, she said that “even if we had been asked, we would not have approved the inclusion of our name”.

As such, the group is currently in the process of contacting the European Commission to ask for their disclaimer to be added, Ajuda explained.

At Monday’s meeting of EU agriculture ministers, a senior EU official told EURACTIV that member states are likely to welcome the report without much controversy.

“I’m expecting that some member states will take the floor on this, [but] I’m not expecting a lot of criticisms on Monday,” the official said.