Closing event of the research project MarkiT
The joint project “MarkiT” (Markenfleischprogramm – Integration von Tierwohl) will be concluded today with a public closing event entitled “How can an animal welfare upgrade be realised?” The most important findings on the integration of animal welfare efforts in a branded meat programme are presented here from a scientific and practical point of view – from the farmer to the consumer. One challenge is to take consumers’ wishes for more species-appropriate pig husbandry into account and to clearly communicate the special features of the production guidelines. On the basis of these demands and challenges for the value chain, the “MarkiT” joint research project funded by the BMEL and Landwirtschaftliche Rentenbank was launched in December 2014.
A stronger consideration of animal welfare in the production process of food, e.g. increased animal husbandry standards on farms, is demanded from various sides. Which measures are suitable for this, and who should pay for them, is, however, controversially discussed. Farmers and consumers are only the beginning and end point of a sometimes very long chain of companies involved, without which changes in standards cannot be successfully implemented. From a multidisciplinary perspective, the MarkiT project, which is funded by the BMEL and the Landwirtschaftliche Rentenbank with funds from the federal government’s special-purpose assets, is therefore devoted to researching ways of orienting the entire value chain towards ensuring increased animal welfare in pig farming.
Partners in MarkiT are Fleischwerk EDEKA Nord GmbH, the Vermarktungsgemeinschaft für Zucht- und Nutzvieh ZNVG e.G., Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn and Grenzüberschreitende Integrierte Qualitätssicherung GIQS e.V.
Using the existing branded meat programme “Gutfleisch” as an example, a more animal-friendly pig farming system could be investigated with the support of selected pilot farms, both from an economic and a social point of view. The analysis of information needs, total costs of implementation and investment readiness in the value chain was carried out by the University of Göttingen. A consumer survey in EDEKA markets of the region EDEKA North as well as surveys of farmers and their consultants on the feasibility and acceptance of selected animal welfare measures provided insights into the economic and socio-psychological potentials and barriers. Farm inspections and focus groups with consumers provided additional insights into the perception and acceptance of conventional pig farming with MarkiT animal welfare measures.
The animal health evaluation and conception for the extension of existing audit activities was carried out by the University of Bonn. The three quality objectives of reducing the use of antibiotics, refraining from pain-related interventions and introducing new production methods (e.g. boar fattening) were defined and evaluated on the basis of measurable parameters. In addition, a conceptual monitoring system was developed. The ZVNG producer association bundles the pigs for the Gutfleisch programme. It represents the interests of its member farmers, but also communicates the objectives of the meat plant. Within the framework of the project, the ZNVG was responsible for the bundling and implementation of the planned measures in the pilot farms, which went hand in hand with the selection, advice and support of the farms in the project. Training courses were held to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and the exchange of experience between livestock farmers and consultants.
The meat plant of EDEKA Nord investigated the meat qualities and is the link between all participants in the process chain of the good meat programme. With the help of close cooperation between research partners and the ZNVG, the Fleischwerk is responsible for implementing the changed production conditions along the process chain in the existing branded meat programme so that knowledge can be gained under practical conditions and sustainable decisions made.
For the success of a branded meat programme, an effective strategy is now being developed to communicate the added value of the pork produced in a branded meat programme with increased animal welfare requirements for the entire value chain.
The joint project “MarkiT” is funded by the Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft on the basis of a resolution of the German Bundestag. Funding is provided from the Federal Government’s special-purpose assets at Landwirtschaftliche Rentenbank. The project executing agency is the Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung. The joint project serves to further develop a branded meat programme with regard to animal welfare requirements that go beyond the legal requirements. To this end, measures and criteria have been developed and tested to integrate animal welfare aspects into the production guidelines of the entire value chain. Acceptance by consumers and farmers was taken into account.
The project partners
- GIQS e.V. – takes over the coordination of the project. In addition, GIQS implements target group-oriented measures to disseminate the results and findings of the project.
- Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, International FoodNetCenter at the Institute of Animal Sciences, Department of Preventive Health Management – evaluates the impact and effects of individual measures on the health status of pilot farms and the animal welfare performance of the entire value chain. To this end, indicators for individual farms (degree of implementation of the programme requirements, MRSA and ESBL monitoring and therapy index) and inter-farm indicators (number of lifelong traceable animals, preliminary information, feedback information, proof documents) have been defined.
- Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Department of Marketing for Food and Agricultural Products – conducts empirical analyses of the willingness of agricultural enterprises to invest and change farming practices, as well as the costs incurred along the value chain and the willingness of consumers to pay, and the need for information.
- Vermarktungsgemeinschaft für Zucht- und Nutzvieh ZNVG e.G. – mainly responsible for the implementation of the planned measures in the pilot farms and the supporting advice of the farmers.
- Fleischwerk EDEKA Nord GmbH works closely with all partners to make decisions on animal welfare measures.