Past EU legislation had split up breeding rules, with separate laws for particular livestock species. Under a new regulation, that already has the support of the European Parliament, these rules will cover bovine, porcine, ovine, caprine and equine species together. The law “constitutes a more comprehensive single legal framework taking into account the ‘state-of-the-art’ in animal breeding while preserving valuable animal genetic resources,” said documents from the May 17 EU agriculture and fisheries council meeting.
"Breed societies and breeding operations will have to meet specific criteria to obtain recognition and approval of their breeding programmes by national authorities, and will therefore form the backbone of this regulation.”
For instance, going forward, breeding organisations will need to meet requirements such as having a head office in the member state where the authority is located, and providing a draft version of each intended breeding programme. Purebred breeding programmes should aim to improve, preserve, or reconstruct existing breeds or create a new breed. Meanwhile, hybrid breeding programmes for pigs should aim to improve the existing or create a new breed, line or cross.
The regulation also clarified certain rights for breeders participating in a programme, including the right to have the breed society enter their purebred breeding animals in a relevant breeding book; to have the breeding operation enter their hybrid breeding pigs in a breeding register for the breed; and to participate in performance testing and genetic evaluation.
In addition, “breed societies and breeding operations shall, without prejudice to the role of the courts, have a responsibility to settle disputes that may arise between breeders, and between breeders and the breed society or breeding operation, in the process of carrying out breeding programmes approved,” according to the regulation.
The rules also cover performance testing and genetic evaluation, the content of zootechnical certificates, and avoiding unjustified restrictions on imports into the EU of breeding animals and their genetic material.
However, certain countries have expressed concerns about the regulation. Hungary, for example, has said a directive that would have allowed member states greater leeway in implementing the legislation, would have been more appropriate than a regulation. Meanwhile, Germany has opposed “the recognition of breeding organisations in which the breeders have no right to membership, as only the implementation of purebred breeding programmes by breeding societies ensures that the individual breeders can decide on, define and continue to develop the breeding programmes.”
Slovakia has noted the regulation could lead to “significant liberalisation of breeding activities,” while the stability of its breeding organisation structure could be “seriously threatened.”
Member states will need to comply with the new rules by the second half of 2018.