Dear Dr. Bertinelli, President of the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium,
I am writing to ask for urgent action for the cows whose milk is used to produce Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese.
Almost four years ago, in 2017, Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) Italia investigated the farming conditions for the animals behind the milk used to make Parmesan. The results shocked people around the world.
It was found that most cows farmed to produce Parmesan are unable to express one of the most basic natural behaviours of their species – grazing on pasture – which is essential for ruminant herbivores.
Furthermore, I understand that, in Italy, the practice of tethering – i.e. fastening animals by a chain or rope – is widespread. I am therefore concerned that this may also affect a considerable percentage of the cows that produce milk for Parmigiano Reggiano.
I am aware that, following the 2017 CIWF investigation and the related campaign, you have started to address the issue of animal welfare and have taken some first steps to improve the welfare of the cows in your supply chain.
However, you have not yet formally committed to phase out, once and for all, the cruel and obsolete practice of tethering, or to give pasture access to all Parmesan cows.
The voluntary animal welfare program that you have launched remains insufficient to guarantee all animals the life worth living that they deserve, and certainly does not reflect the prestige enjoyed by your cheese.
Parmigiano Reggiano is a leading international brand. I ask you to do more for animal welfare because I know you can do better for the cows. I call on the Consortium to:
- Publicly commit NOW to phasing-out the cruel and obsolete system of tethering by 2024.
- By the end of 2022, put in place a roadmap to progressively guarantee access to at least 120 days of grazing per year for all the cows in your supply chain.
As a consumer and citizen who cares about animal welfare, I expect your Consortium to deliver concrete and binding commitments and a positive change for animals, in line with the principles and the values you have expressed on several occasions.
Animal welfare is gaining huge momentum as a societal concern. In 2021 alone we have seen the European Commission committing to introduce a ban on cages in animal farming, and both the UK and New Zealand taking steps towards ending the export of live animals.
In the light of these developments, and almost four years on from the CIWF investigation into Parmigiano Reggiano, it is time for the Consortium to also step up. It is time for you to protect the welfare of all cows farmed to produce Parmesan cheese.
I look forward to your positive response.