On June 12, 2018, animal welfare, animal rights and environmental organizations gathered at the Waisenhausplatz in Bern to launch the initiative calling for the abolition of factory farming in Switzerland. Representatives of various organizations like Tier im Fokus (TIF), die Grüne Partei Schweiz (Switzerland's green party), Greenpeace and Fondation Franz Weber delivered speeches on the topic.
The popular initiative demands that the dignity of animals be consistently protected in agricultural animal husbandry which ultimately means that they are entitled to a life free from the confinement and further consequences of factory farming. The initiators define factory farming as industrial animal husbandry that is aimed at highly efficient production of animal goods and whereby animals are systematically violated in their wellbeing. Systematic violation of the animals' wellbeing means, for example, keeping animals in large groups in confined spaces, altering their appearance in order to keep and use them in the most economical way possible (e.g. dehorning of cattle), disregarding scientific findings on the physiological and ethological needs of animals (e.g., insufficient freedom of movement), or violating the physical and psychological integrity of animals in some other way (e.g., separation of calves from cows after birth in the milk industry).
Contrary to popular belief, factory farming is actually widespread practice in Switzerland. More and more small farms are closing and making way for a smaller number of large-scale industrial farms with higher animal populations. Advertisements depict an idyllic world of free-roaming and grazing cows, content chickens pecking away outdoors and happy pigs wallowing in mud. However, these images are far from the truth and misleading to consumers. For example, the law does not require farmers to let their animals outside on a daily basis and most farm animals in Switzerland spend most of their lives inside.