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UK Considering Ending Livestock Exports for Slaughter

UK Considering Ending Livestock Exports for Slaughter Animal welfare, cattle, dairy, Dairy-based ingredients, fish and savoury ingredients, meat, Policy, Processing and Packaging, Proteins, Sustainability, Transparency and supply chain, UK government Food and Beverage Business

The Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill will ban the export of cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and horses from the UK for fattening and slaughter. The bill follows a pledge made in the ruling Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto, which aimed to end excessively long journeys for slaughter and fattening. Although the ban does not apply to Northern Ireland, the legislation will have a significant impact on animal welfare and farming in the UK.

While no livestock has been exported for such purposes since 2020, logistical reasons are largely responsible. Nonetheless, the ban will put an end to these exports, aligning with the UK’s reputation as a leader in animal welfare. The UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) spokesperson stated that the country is fully committed to maintaining and enhancing its strong track record in animal welfare.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) and the charity Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) have welcomed the news. According to CIWF, live exports cause animals to suffer from exhaustion, dehydration, and even death on long, stressful journeys. The new legislation will ensure that animals are slaughtered domestically in UK slaughterhouses, preventing exports to unknown or lower welfare slaughterhouses.

The bill is expected to have a negligible impact on the UK agriculture sector. Even when live exports for slaughter or fattening were taking place, the proportion of animals exported instead of slaughtered or fattened in the UK was low. The absence of calf exports means these animals will now be reared in the UK, benefiting UK farmers and potentially increasing the value of calves from the dairy industry.

The National Farming Union (NFU) of England and Wales stressed the importance of keeping farmers’ interests at the heart of government policy. NFU Chief Livestock Advisor John Royle emphasized the need to ensure that British livestock farmers are not undercut in trade deals by imports that do not meet the same high standards adhered to in the UK.

The bill will now be put before Parliament and will become law if it is successfully voted through. This move aligns with the UK’s goal of being a global leader in animal welfare, and the government is committed to maintaining and enhancing its strong track record in this field.

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