The European Commission has recognized the role of working horses, donkeys, and mules and acknowledged that more can be done to provide better welfare for them, equine welfare charity the Brooke reported June 22.

Working equids support the livelihoods of people across the world by helping them to earn a living and provide for their families.

In March 2017, Nuno Melo, a Portuguese member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development submitted asked the European Commission to acknowledge working animals’ contribution to food production, and outline how European Union (EU) agricultural programs can support them.

The commission has responded, accepting that the role of working equines in agriculture should be addressed and that projects focusing on improving welfare conditions would be appropriate in EU programming.

The Brooke said this is an important step in improving working equine welfare worldwide, as well as in the EU.

Melo, who was also the shadow rapporteur of the “Responsible Ownership of Equids” report approved by the European parliament in March 2017, was pleased with the result.

“I am very proud of this achievement on behalf of rural farmers and also on the recognition of the importance of the daily work done by horses and donkeys in the most difficult rural areas of Europe,” he said. “This will give a new boost to the battle to see working animals recognized as a valuable tool for reaching a sustainable agricultural activity, and to see the European Commission in first line to support projects to improve the welfare of these animals all over the EU territory.”

Added Andreea Petre-Goncalves, senior advocacy and public affairs manager for Brooke, “Brooke is continually working to improve wide reaching policy and regulation that improves the lives of working horses and donkeys across the world. This is an important step towards building legislation that focusses on the welfare of these animals, and we’re extremely grateful to Mr. Melo for taking this forward.”