The law amendment to allow kosher and halal slaughter is a temporary measure aimed at offsetting the negative consequences of the corona crisis on animal breeders, Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis said on Monday.
The minister said that a clause inserted in the bill in question, expected to be passed by parliament soon, stipulates that animals will be anaesthetised right after their throats are cut, to limit their suffering to the minimum.
Following the debate on whether Cyprus should allow kosher and halal slaughter after farmers announced the law would be changed soon to facilitate such procedures, Kadis said the government has proposed a bill amendment to tackle an extraordinary situation.
Speaking to state broadcaster CyBC, Kadis repeated the farmers’ arguments over the need to find an alternative market since prices plunged due to the coronavirus crisis.
“Since there was strong interest, it was decided to allow for a period of time, religious types of slaughter such as kosher and halal,” Kadis said. He said that in such procedures there is no anaesthesia before the slaughter of animals.
The minister said the government would not have discussed such a measure under normal conditions.
“This is an extraordinary and temporary measure.”
He explained that the government has Inserted two clauses in the bill in question; that this will be a temporary measure, and that anaesthesia will be administered immediately after the main arteries are cut to limit the animals’ pain. He added that this is also implemented in other countries.
According to Kadis, the majority of parties, except the Greens were on board and that bill is to be passed by parliament soon.
He added that it is expected that around 10,000 animals will remain unsold if this is not introduced immediately which will mean additional costs to farmers for their upkeep.
He expressed the hope that MPs vote on it soon “because it has to be done now”.
Procedures will have to start immediately, he said, adding that kosher slaughters will be made in approved slaughterhouses, with checks from the state vet services.
“Hopefully this measure will help solve the problem,” he said.
The Animal Party said later on Monday that some parties were trying to eliminate from the amendment the clause stipulating that this measure would only be in place until the end of the year. It said that they want the date to be removed, which shows that the reason behind the law amendment is not the coronavirus crisis but rather the trade and export of meat.
The party called on everyone against this development to put pressure on the House agriculture committee and MPs.
Costas Livadiotis, head of the Butchers’ Association, expressed reservations about the speed in introducing this measure. He also said he was not so sure most parties were backing the law amendment.
Livadiotis told CyBC that it is too soon yet to determine whether the market will be slow this year.
“This week will tell,” he said, arguing that there is still great demand for pork, chicken and beef.
Livadiotis said that usually 100,000 slaughtered lambs are imported each year from Greece also questioning the expressed concerns over the possibility of 10,000 animals being left unsold in Cyprus.
He said that abattoirs are now slaughtering now more animals than last year since imports from Greece are slated to drop.
“We should wait to discuss this issue with public consultation, and not rush into it,” Livadiotis said.
Among the concerns he expressed is the small capacity of the island’s two abattoirs, but also that it will take long, thorough procedures to prepare an abattoir that has been performing conventional slaughters for kosher slaughter.
He said that in other countries kosher slaughter takes place in special facilities.