Animal rights activists occupy West Flemish foie gras farm

Activists from the animal rights groups Animal Resistance have staged a protest at a farm that produces foie gras in the West Flemish municipality of Bekegem. Around twenty people chained themselves to cages in which the ducks whose livers are to be used to produce the foie gras are kept. The police were called and they brought the protest to an end. 

Animal Resistence’s spokesman Flenn Lemmens said in a press statement that “After we had seen the images of the cages, the mesh floor on which these animals must live and the dozens of dead and injured ducks we were all deeply moved”.  

Mr Lemmens claims that a whistle blower that works at the farm provided his organisation with the images that show that the ducks are being kept in unacceptable conditions. The activists say that they repeatedly tried to contact the Flemish Minister responsible for animal welfare Ben Weyts (nationalist) but received no reply.

The farm is the last foie gras producer in Flanders and is due to close in 2023 when a ban on foie gras production in our region comes into force. However, Animal Resistance demands that the farm is close down straight away.

The protest was filmed and streamed on the social media platform Facebook. 

"A bunch of hooligans that don’t know what they are doing”

The owner of the farm Filip Callemeyn told the press agency Belga that "We try and do our best to keep the animals in as calm an environment as possible and then a motley crew comes and runs between the ducks and the cages. They caused the animals to panic , making them walk over each other, become stress and get injured. This will ensure that a lot of animals die. Instead of helping ensure animal welfare they have done just the opposite. They are just a bunch of hooligans that don’t know what they are doing. If they would talk in a reasonable way to the Animal Welfare Minster and other authorities they would achieve better results”. 

"There fight is outdated"

The Flemish Animal Welfare Minister’s Spokesman Michaël Devoldere said in a reaction that a ban on force-feeding animals (as is the case in the production of foie gras) had already been passed in Flanders and as such the protest was outdated