EU’s deal with the US on beef gives the wrong signal

The EU guarantees the purchase of tens of thousands of tonnes of hormone-free beef from US meat producers every year. This was made official when Trump signed the deal early August 2019. FOUR PAWS considers this a step in the completely wrong direction.


“The deal not only contradicts the goals of combating the climate crisis and weakens European farmers, the EU decision also supports an animal product that completely disregards the well being of these animals.”

Dr. Martina Stephany, Director of Farm Animals and Nutrition at FOUR PAWS International.

This is because cattle in the USA are usually fattened in so-called feedlots. On this type of fattening farm, cattle are fattened in their last three to four months using highly concentrated feed to get them to reach a weight which animals on free pasture would reach in three years. They do not receive feed that is suitable for ruminants, but only maize silage and concentrated feed, have no protection against sun or rain and interventions are carried out without painkillers and anesthesia.

"Deals like this show a completely wrong policy approach that treats animals like commodities. Animal suffering cannot be condoned, whether within the EU or with imported products. We’d rather see the EU to introduce animal welfare standards for imported products and financially support EU farmers who meet higher animals welfare standards.” 

Dr. Martina Stephany, Director of Farm Animals and Nutrition at FOUR PAWS International.

Farm animals are sentient beings that should be legally protected and treated with dignity. Industrial animal husbandry does not only mean torture for the animals, but it also destroys our planet significantly. The keeping conditions in the conventional fattening farms of the EU also have animal welfare problems, e.g. no outdoor access for beef cattle, fully slatted floors, no roughage feed suitable for ruminants, interventions without painkillers and anesthesia. “What’s needed is a fundamental rethink from politics and the industry, towards a system where the welfare of the animal and its needs take center stage, and where animal production is reduced and alternatives to meat are promoted”, says Martina Stephany.

The current negotiations on the Mercosur trade agreement, also include discussions on importing cheap animal products from South American countries into the EU that do not follow animal protection laws. This has caused indignation among European farmers.

If consumers want to help they can follow the 3R principle: reduce, refine, replace: Reduce the consumption of animal products, pay attention to the origin and animal welfare labels when buying animal products and replace meat, milk and eggs as often as possible with plant-based products. Every person can have a say in how animals get to live in our society through their consumer behaviour.