Austrians asked to ‘eat more apples’

Agriculture Minister Andrä Rupprechter (ÖVP) is calling on Austrians to eat more apples to combat the economic impact of the Russian import ban on food from the EU.

Austrians asked to 'eat more apples'
Austrian apples. File photo: APA/epa

“If everyone ate one more apple a week, then we could prevent losses in the fruit and vegetable market,” he told ORF radio.

He urged Austrians to start eating more home grown products and said that hospitals, caterers, and restaurants should also buy regional produce.

In 2013 Austria exported agricultural goods worth about €238 million to Russia – this number is expected to halve due to the sanctions. 

EU farmers will get financial help of up to €125 million to help them cope with the impact of Russia's ban on most Western food imports.

According to Rupprechter the EU has an emergency reserve of about €400 million to compensate for market disruption in the agricultural sector. 

The Russian ban is costing Austrian farmers €4.5 million a week so far, Rupprechter said.

Other countries have also been calling for national solidarity to support farmers and food producers.

In Poland, a journalist started a twitter hashtag #eatapples (#jedzjabłka), as a way of protesting against Russia. A Facebook page called Eat Apples To Annoy Putin also became hugely popular. 

One of Poland's largest supermarket chains actively endorsed the hashtag on its Facebook and Twitter pages.

Rupprechter said the agricultural ministry now plans to focus exports on the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia.

Russia imposed the import ban as a countermeasure against the sanctions imposed by the EU against Moscow for its alleged support of Russian separatists in Ukraine's civil war.

According to calculations by The Local, given that an apple typically has 95 calories, one extra apple per week amounts to 13 calories – which would place the average Austrian's calorie consumption at 3,773 per day, giving Austria the dubious glory of eating the most calories per day in the world.

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Austria bans ‘senseless’ killing of chicks with new animal welfare rules

The Federal Government announced a new legislative package with stricter rules for animal welfare, banning the "senseless" killing of chicks, tighter rules for live animal transport and installing other protection measures.

Austria bans 'senseless' killing of chicks with new animal welfare rules

Austria’s Federal Government has put together a new set of rules for stricter animal welfare in the country, most notably banning the practice of mass killing and disposal of male newborn chicks.  

“This package of measures is a great success for animal welfare, which finally implements years of demands of animal rights activists,” explains Animal Welfare Minister Johannes Rauch in a press conference detailing the measures.

Rauch announced the end of the “senseless” killing of chicks. Instead, the minister explained that the animals would be culled and used as feed in zoos, saying there is a great demand and zoos have been importing meat for their animals. 

READ ALSO: Penguin rescued after being ‘kidnapped’ from Salzburg zoo

In the future, Austria will carry out “gender determinations” of the animals before they hatch to take “appropriate measures earlier”.

Rauch added that the “shredding” of chicks, a controversial culling measure, did not take place in Austria even before the new steps. 

Measures for cow and pig welfare

The present animal welfare package will end the uninterrupted, year-round tying of cattle from 2030.

For pigs, there will be an “incentive” to offer more space for the animals, with new and converted stables and cooling planned. Rauch said that the measures were a compromise and first step but that “we are not yet where we want to go”. 

READ ALSO: Austria to ban online ads offering pets for sale

The package also imposes new rules for live animal transport, including shorter transport times and a ban on transporting newborns. 

Most of the provisions will come into force from 2023, the minister added. The package will be officially voted in Parliament at the end of June. 

“Unacceptable”: Criticism from animal protection groups and opposition

Animal protection groups in Austria have criticised the federal government’s plan as unacceptable and a “weak compromise”. 

Pigs and cattle for fattening will still stand on full-coated soils, tail cropping and anaesthetic castration will continue to be common practice in piglets, and animals will be transported far too young and far too long, the Vier Pfoten group pointed out in a statement.

READ ALSO: Why Vienna is a haven for wild animals – and where you can find them

“There was not even a serious attempt to put an end to this cruelty to animals”, the group’s director Eva Rosenberg said.

Opposition SPÖ has also criticised the government plans, calling it “a mess”, according to Vienna Animal Welfare spokesperson Eva Persy. The NEOS parliamentary groups said the measures were “pure cosmetics”, and the proposals do not go far enough.