Finland’s new draft bill to reform the animal welfare act has sparked controversy. Critics warn the new rules will do little to ease the suffering of livestock.

According to Ville Niinistö, an ex-chairperson of the Green League, the draft law unveiled on December 21, will introduce virtually no significant improvements to animal welfare.

“When it comes to animal rights, Finland is a developing country,” he posted on Facebook.

As reported by the Helsinki Times, Niinistö shifted the blame for what he calls a diluted draft bill to both the Centre and National Coalition Party, namely to ex-ministers of agriculture, Jari Koskinen (NCP), Petteri Orpo (NCP) and Kimmo Tiilikainen (Centre), and the current  minister, Jari Leppä (Centre).

“The ministers repeatedly refused to meet representatives of animal welfare organisations and the animal welfare group of the Finnish parliament. The bill was ultimately presented in a diluted form. It is not consistent with the development elsewhere in the world,” he said.

As reported by the Helsinki Times, Niinistö views that the only genuinely welcome proposal in the bill is that to prohibit the use of farrowing crates, which are used to house sows and newborn piglets for weeks in order to ensure the safety of the piglets. The prohibition, however, will only enter into effect after a transition period of 15 years.

“The proposal is relatively vague when it comes to pain management, and it does not prohibit the use of tie-stall barns, guarantee access to running water and prohibit fur farming or even improve the [farming] conditions notably,” adds Niinistö.