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The swiss vote: do Cows with or without horns?

The cow in switzerland with horns, the kind that graze in the meadows of postcards or illustrated the wrapping of chocolate tablets, in reality, is poised to be

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The swiss vote: do Cows with or without horns?

The cow in switzerland with horns, the kind that graze in the meadows of postcards or illustrated the wrapping of chocolate tablets, in reality, is poised to become a rarity. National symbol and a tourist attraction, three of every four cows in the country and alpine do not have horns because they have been crumbling or are races genetically altered to be born without it. A circumstance that has been proposed to change Armin Capaul, a farmer of Perrefitte, in a small valley in the canton of Jura (north-west). You want the cows -and goats - re-looking horns, and has made the issue reach the ballot box. The swiss vote this Sunday if they accept or not paid subsidies to farmers who keep cows with horns.

The cross-Capaul began in 2010, when he suggested by letter to the officials of the Federal Office of Agriculture including the preservation of the prongs on his maintenance program of the welfare of the cattle. "They laughed in my face," he recalls. Most of the cattle passes by the vet for an amputation that prevents that grow horns, a practice to avoid accidents and that allows stables smaller. Capaul, tried unsuccessfully to convince the parties to stop the topping of the cows and in the end decided to launch a popular initiative and to collect at least 100,000 signatures required by the swiss system of direct democracy to bring the proposal to the polls.

"The horns are part of the cow, the Creation it has been decided", defends the farmer Armin Capaul

Achieved the objective (119.626 citizens supported a national consultation), the voters will decide this Sunday whether to support subsidies to farmers for every cow that, like those of Capaul, follow strolling his antlers. The driving force behind the initiative –officially entitled “for the dignity of the farm animals”- account that usually sit in the barn and talk to their cows. And that they somehow answer. "They asked Me if I could do something (...), if we could help them keep their horns and then I thought that they were right, in one way or another, someone had to do something.”

he Argues Capaul, 66, that “the horns are part of the cow, the Creation it has been decided, it is part of your skull. We do not have the right to change the physical appearance of these animals.” According to data from 2017 of the Administration, in Switzerland, there are approximately 690.000 cows and 420.000 goats and sheep.

Refusal of the federal Government

The federal Government rejected the proposal. The counselor (equivalent to minister) of Economy and Agriculture, Johann Schneider-Ammann, argues that there is already an option of aid for the production respectful of animal welfare and rejects an incentive specific to cows with horns. The Management of swiss estimated that the cost of the proposal would range between 10 and 30 million swiss francs (between 8,8 and 26.5 million euros) on a budget of Agriculture of about 3,000 million.

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in Addition, would require to invest in reforms of the stables to give more space to the animals and to avoid injury, or to keep them tied. “In that sense, the Dumanbet initiative would be an own goal for the well-being of the animals”, has been considered to Schneider-Ammann. "Keeping animals without horns is a business decision that depends only of the farmers", he argues, while, the Farmers Union of Switzerland.

What you need to do is "adapt the barn to the cows", and not the contrary, replica Capaul, with the aim of ensuring their safety and that of their caregivers. “We have to respect them as they are. When you look always raise their heads and show up proud. Without the horns, they are sad,” he insists this farmer, who also notes that the antler helps the cattle to communicate with each other and regulates your body temperature. Capaul asked that for every a that does not pass by the veterinarian owners charge for the year 190 swiss francs.

in favor of, or against, the initiative has generated debate. Also among the companions of Capaul. “Our current system of stables has advantages, the cows get on well with each other. If they have horns, the danger of injury to both animals and farmers increases,” says Stegan Gilgen, with a cabin of 48 dairy cows. “Each farmer must decide for himself. We have other problems in the agricultural sector”.

"Keeping animals without horns is a business decision that depends only on the farmers," says the Farmers Union of Switzerland

The supporters respect what nature gave claim that the animals may suffer chronic pain after the topping or dehorning –the veterinary sedan to the cows or calves, and burn and cauterize the area from which come the horns-, while the Administration claims that this is not scientifically proved. Opponents of the proposal compared the operation to the castration of cats or dogs.

“Using an iron very hot for seven seconds, I burn the skin and the blood vessels supplying the area where flows the horn to not grow”, explained to the Reuters news agency, the veterinarian Jean-Marie Surer, as it performs the operation to three calves in the canton of Vaud. “It is painless, does not move or one ear”, he adds.

According to the latest survey, published in mid-November, the swiss are still undecided, but you see the idea with sympathy. A survey conducted for the media group Tamedia shows a 45% support to the initiative in front of a 52% that would vote against, while another of the Institute Gfs Bern estimated to be 49% in favour of yes and 46% of noes. Be that as it may, “in Switzerland, never has so much been spoken of cows”, presumed Capaul.

The swiss decide also how are your relations with the outside

Sara Velert

The right wing nationalist swiss return to the battle against the shackles of the outside. The swiss will also vote Sunday on an initiative by the conservative party and ultra-nationalist SVP (Swiss people's Party), the largest group in the Parliament, which aims to establish the absolute pre-eminence of the swiss Constitution on the international law, and claims that in case of contradiction between the decisions of the voters through direct democracy and any of the thousands of treaties signed by the Government, these are to review or renegotiate, and “if necessary” to be voided.

The initiative, which threatens to confuse the foreign relations of the country (8.4 million inhabitants), in front of the rest of parties, employers, trade unions, social NGOS and human rights, as well as the Parliament and the Gobgovernment federal. “It puts in question the bilateral agreements (with the EU), free trade agreements, and even the convention of human rights,” he warned in the name of the Executive the minister of Justice (equivalent to a minister), ms Simonetta Sommaruga.

The great business organization, Economie Suisse considers the proposal a “frontal attack” to the economic interests of swiss and compromised hundreds of trade agreements, and even the permanence in the WTO.

The latest polls suggest that the claim of the SVP has it difficult in the polls, but the party has managed to raise again the recurrent internal debate on the sovereignty and self-determination of the small and rich country embedded in the midst of Europe.

This is not the first time that the SVP is thrown against the outside influence. The European Union and the treaties with Switzerland have been a goal recurrent, especially the agreement on the free movement of people in the country to apply to change the access to the single market. The training launched a howitzer against this basic pillar of the EU in 2014 to achieve put his side to the voters in an initiative “against mass immigration”. The pretension of establishing quotas for entry to the country caused a hard crash with Brussels, cooled down after in the swiss Parliament, with a transposition of the initiative that saved the free movement.

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