Defra is in the process of developing a vision and strategic objectives for the future of our food system. This is clearly a crucial piece of work which is likely to shape government food policy for years to come. As part of this process, Defra has recently published a number of consultation documents on food security and sustainability. To our dismay, these give a very low priority to animal welfare. We believe that it's essential for good standards of animal welfare to be included among the core objectives of government food policy.
Please write to Hilary Benn MP, the Defra Secretary of State. Say that you are shocked that Defra's recent consultation documents on food security and sustainability give a very low priority to animal welfare. Add that you agree with Defra that the priorities of food policy must include food security, healthy diets and reduction of the environmental impact of agriculture. Stress your belief that the achievement of high standards of animal welfare should also be seen as a core goal of food policy.
Point out that animal welfare is an important value in its own right. In addition, the pursuit of good animal welfare standards would not detract from the key objectives identified by Defra but could in fact support them.
A move from intensive to extensive animal production would produce healthier animals, reduced environmental pollution and a reduction in the amount of cereals and soya that are grown to feed factory farmed animals, crops that could be better used for direct human consumption.
Moreover, a reduction in meat and dairy consumption would not only benefit animal welfare (as fewer animals would be needed, they could be reared in more extensive conditions) but would also lead to a fall in the greenhouse gas emissions generated by food production and a reduction in certain diet-related diseases.
Hilary Benn's contact details are:
Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP
Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs,
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
17 Smith Square