Animal health care is part of Finland’s national quality strategy. The aim is to enhance the strengths of our food production chain, such as good animal health, limited use of medicines, and the safety and quality of food. The national quality strategy improves farm level monitoring, transparency and documentation. A short supply chain guarantees the transparency of production conditions and methods. The preventive health care of production animals also supports risk management on farms.
Cases keep emerging where production animals are kept in inadequate conditions. Public debate has focused on production methods, the standard of animal welfare, its supervision and violations of legislation. Promoting animal welfare requires actions and cooperation by many different parties.
The Rural Development Programme for Mainland Finland 2014–2020 sets out measures to promote the welfare of production animals. The measures include training, advisory services, agricultural investments and animal welfare payments.
General animal welfare requirements are laid down in the Animal Welfare Act, the Animal Transport Act, the Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations, and the Act on the Protection of Animals Used for Scientific or Educational Purposes.
The objective of the Animal Welfare Act is to protect animals from distress, pain and suffering in the best possible way. It also aims to promote the welfare and good treatment of animals. Inflicting undue pain and distress on animals is prohibited. In addition, maintaining the health of animals must be promoted when keeping animals and the physiological and behavioural needs of the animals must be taken into account.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is the supreme authority steering and controlling the enforcement of and compliance with animal welfare legislation. Finnish Food Authority is the central government authority steering and controlling the enforcement of and compliance with the legislation. The Regional State Administrative Agencies oversee the compliance with legislation in their respective regions. At the local level, the authorities responsible for controlling animal welfare include municipal veterinarians, municipal health protection control officers and the police. Veterinary officers for meat inspection monitor compliance with animal welfare legislation at slaughterhouses and veterinary officers for border control at veterinary border inspection posts. Facilities carrying out animal experiments are monitored by the Regional State Administrative Agencies for Southern Finland and Eastern Finland.
For more information, please visit the website of the Finnish Food Authority.