CARE - Conference on Animal Rights Europe, 2-5 November 2017 in Vienna

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Against factory farming in Italy English talk by Annamaria Pisapia (Italy)

Laura Vicuña: Seminar room, first floor

Italian agriculture and farming are one of the most intensive in Europe. With its almost 60 million residents Italy is home every year to more than tenfold farm animals – the overall number being close to 700 million. The majority of them are factory farmed in the lowland region that is Italy's agricultural heartland, the Po Valley, where worldwide famous products such as Parma ham and renowned cheeses like Parmesan and Grana Padano are produced.

Most livestock sectors in Italy are from 90 % onwards intensive: almost all dairy cows are zero grazing, 98 % of the pigs are kept in intensive indoors systems, and so are 95 % of the chickens and all the rabbits. Sadly, the lack of pasture and outdoor access applies also to a great part of the organic production.

Italy is overprotective of its food reputation: Made in Italy food has always been a real pride (and a big source of income) for the country. In particular, Italians tend to consider Italian food high quality and healthy.

Italian politics has always been protecting the farming lobby, disregarding the welfare of animals: this has resulted in flouted legislation and even lack of sanctioning. But the biggest cause of the system being untouched was the lack of media exposure. Indeed, the farming lobby used to keep Italian media under their boot. For decades, using the weapon of the advertisement withdrawal, the industry made sure that the truth about factory farming was not covered by Italian media, especially by television. At the same time, the most misleading TV advertising featuring happy animals in fields, especially cows, in perfect Old McDonald's style, reassured Italians that the animals producing their food had a happy life.

The presentation will explain how, moving from such a situation, in a short time such as two years, the wall of silence which protected the Italian factory farming system was broken and the fate of animals in factory farms became of public concern, as well as the need for a change.

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