Voters in Switzerland have voted against a proposed rule that would have subsidized leaving horns on cattle and other horned animals.
On Nov. 25 Swiss voters rejected the “Horned Cow” initiative by a vote of 54.7 percent.
Following the vote Swiss Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann relayed that the results show that farmers already have a high set of animal welfare standards.
“Farmers should have the freedom to operate their business as they wish. They should not be driven with incentives into a less modern direction,” Schneider-Ammann says.
The initiative was led by Armin Capaul, a former protester turned farmer, who claims that dehorning is painful for animals.
“We must respect cows as they are. Leave them their horns. When you look at them they always hold their head high and are proud. When you remove the horns, they are sad,” Capaul shares with Reuters.
More than 100,000 signatures were gathered by Capaul to trigger the national vote.
The proposed anti-dehorning regulation would have paid farmers an annual subsidy of 190 Swiss franc ($191.65) per horned animal. The Swiss government says the subsidy program would have put additional pressure on the 3 billion franc ($3.03 billion) annual agricultural budget with an estimated 30 million francs ($30.3 million) needed for funding.
Many farmers were against the proposed rule because they see the safety benefits of having livestock without horns.
“Our current system in the stable has advantages, the cows get along better with each other. If cows have horns, the danger of injuries to the animals and humans is greater,” says Stefan Gilgen, a Swiss dairy farmer milking 48 cows.