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Election: parties and farm animal welfare?

News Section Icon Published 21/04/2010

The UK General Election campaign is an opportunity for Compassion in World Farming supporters to raise the profile of farm animal welfare issues with their local Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs).

Compassion has scanned the manifestoes of the main political parties standing for election. Here are their general statements about animal welfare and their specific references to farm animal welfare:

Parties

(in alphabetical order)

References

Conservatives

"We will be (…) vigilant in ensuring the welfare of animals. We will promote the highest standards of farm animal welfare." (p. 95)

"We will push for reform of the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies to promote sustainable farming and fishing. We will promote high animal welfare standards and ensure that government procures locally-produced food wherever possible." (p. 195)

"We will introduce honesty in food labelling, if necessary through legislation, so consumers can be confident about where their food comes from. This will ensure that meat labelled as 'British' is born and bred in Britain, and raised to our high welfare standards." (p. 197)

Green party of England and Wales

"We would:

  • Set new targets every five years and a minimum conversion of 10% of UK food production to organic every five years.
  • Replace the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with support for smaller farms, organic agriculture, local food markets, and measures to increase biodiversity in our countryside - European subsidies must support planet friendly farming.
  • Support GM-free zones and continue to work for a complete ban on genetically modified food in Europe.
  • Intensive livestock farming is a major contributor to greenhouse gases through the production of methane. We will work to measure and reduce the impact of our meat and dairy consumption, while recognizing that traditional rotational grazing has potential for storing carbon in the soil.
  • (…) including clear policies on sustainability to enable planning authorities to give priority to local firms and farms;" (p. 39 - 40)

"We share the world with other animals and are not entitled to ill-treat or exploit them.

Accordingly we would:

  • Phase out all forms of factory farming of animals and enforce strict animal welfare standards generally, including in organic agriculture.
  • (…) press the EU to ban fur factory farming; bring in non-lethal alternatives to shooting seals at fish farms." (p. 40)
  • "End live animal exports and limit journey times for all animal transport.
  • Implement a full ban on the production and sale of eggs produced from hens kept in battery cages (including 'enriched' cages).
  • Protect biodiversity and human and animal health. We will always adopt the 'precautionary principle' with regard to any alleged benefits of new technologies such as genetic modification, cloning, xenotransplantation and nanotechnology." (p. 41)

Labour

"(…) we will bring forward further animal welfare measures." (p. 59)

"We want British farming to be profitable and competitive. We need our farmers to produce more food, nurturing our countryside and biodiversity. We will continue to seek reform of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) to facilitate the creation of fairer and better functioning agricultural markets, enabling farmers to return a reasonable profit from food production at lower cost to the consumer.

In order to protect farmers and food suppliers from unfair and uncompetitive practices by major retailers, we will create a Supermarket Ombudsman.

Consumers have the right to know where food comes from. We are working with the food industry and retailers to ensure proper food labelling, including tougher and clearer 'country of origin' information. This will also help to level the playing field for British farmers." (p. 59)

Liberal Democrats

"Liberal Democrats believe that ownership and use of animals is a responsibility that should not be abused.

We will:

  • Merge existing quangos to establish an Animal Protection Commission to investigate abuses, educate the public and enforce the law; it will also be able to publish reports on its own initiative.
  • Work for the proper enforcement of regulations for the transportation of live animals across all EU member states." (p. 55)

"Liberal Democrats will:

  • Keep the pressure on for reform of agricultural subsidies so that farmers, consumers and taxpayers get a fair deal, and the environment is protected." (p. 66)

"It is important to Britain's future security that the country has a sustainable farming industry. We will build on that strength and ensure that farmers get the fair deal they deserve, are able to earn a living wage and also help to protect our natural environment and heritage.

Liberal Democrats will:

  • Introduce a minimum level for the Single Farm Payment and concentrate future reductions on the highest claims so that big landowners get less, and the money goes to working farmers who need it, not people who farm one field as a hobby.
  • Use the money freed by our reform to Single Farm Payments to provide extra support for hill farmers, cheap loans to help farmers invest in environmentally friendly biogas digesters and a new Farming Apprenticeship scheme.
  • Work within Europe for further reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, while continuing direct support for farmers, especially in upland and less favoured areas. We believe that a greater proportion of that support should be targeted at conservation, the environment and tackling climate change, as well as at providing food security for a rapidly growing world population. Organic and reduced-input foodstuffs should be encouraged.
  • Help consumers to choose foods with the least environmental impact, through clearer labelling, and work with the EU to make sure country-of-origin labels identify the source of the products, not where they are packaged. We will use government procurement policy to expand the market for sustainable and fair-traded products." (p. 83 - 84)

Plaid Cymru

"The climate crisis represents the greatest threat to humanity. We must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and change the way we produce and use energy. (…) Investment in community based farming would produce more locally-grown food." (p.15)

"Plaid Cymru believes that farming is central to the prosperity and sustainability of our rural communities. The industry has some difficult challenges ahead, not least increasing production to satisfy growing global demand for food, while reducing its environmental footprint. With the likelihood of traditional European subsidies changing, agriculture will need to become more market driven and profitable. The Welsh Assembly Government is working closely with the industry to achieve this, and by doing so, to increase the prosperity of family farms across Wales.

Welsh agriculture also needs a strong Plaid Cymru voice in Westminster to promote the interests of Wales - for instance to reaffirm our commitment to keeping Wales GM-free. We also need to ensure that Wales' interests are at the heart of the UK's negotiations with other EU Member States when the Common Agricultural Policy is reviewed in 2013.

We need changes to UK food labelling legislation so that consumers have clear information on 'place of farming'. Plaid Cymru will also oppose a UK Treasury livestock tax being imposed on Welsh farmers." (p. 16)

Scottish National Party

There are no references to animal welfare in the Scottish National Party's manifesto.

UK Independence Party

"This manifesto illustrates how withdrawal from the EU can benefit the UK right across the spectrum, from immigration to crime, tax, jobs and the economy, pensions, public services, and even through to animal welfare and Post Offices. Few realise just how much the EU now controls and interferes with our day-to-day lives, despite never having obtained permission to do so from the British people. (p. 2)

For too long, the EU and the UK's major political parties have ridden roughshod over the concerns of farmers and rural people. UKIP will implement policies to ease key worries, breathe new life into the rural economy and enhance the countryside. UKIP will:

  • Withdraw from the EU and retain Britain's seat at the World Trade Organisation so the UK can pursue agricultural trade policies that are directly in the national interest
  • Ensure there is no sudden loss of Common Agricultural Policy farming subsidies such as single farm payments (already paid for by British consumers and taxpayers). Over time, UKIP will use labelling and advertising campaigns to promote British produce and fairer food prices. This will replace the need for many subsidies
  • Support GM foods research and require all imported produce to be labelled so consumers can make informed choices. In the meantime, we will continue to oppose production of GM foods and be open to evolving scientific advice
  • Introduce labels that differentiate between ethically-produced and non ethically-produced food products, backed by significant consumer advertising. This will empower the consumer and demonstrate the high quality of British produce and UK animal welfare standards" (p. 14)

"UKIP believes all animals that share our planet deserve to be treated compassionately by humans and should be spared unnecessary suffering." (p. 15)

Take action

Compassion has teamed up with other leading welfare groups in the Vote Cruelty Free Coalition and many PPCs have signed up to the Coalition's agenda. Each coalition group has chosen their key issues, which they ask PPCs to endorse.

The issues that Compassion is focusing on in the Vote Cruelty Free campaign are:

  1. Ending the export of animals for slaughter or fattening
  2. Prohibiting "enriched" cages for egg laying hens
  3. Ensuring the Government enforces the EU legislation requiring pigs to be provided with enrichment materials and prohibiting routine tail docking
  4. Animal welfare being seen as one of the core objectives of Government food policy.

Between now and the election on Thursday 06 May 2010, please promote our key farm animal welfare issues by taking the following actions:

  1. Contact your local candidates and take every opportunity possible, from your front door to local public meetings, to ask for their opinion on the above four demands.
  2. Write letters to your local newspaper and call in to your local radio station to let other people know you will vote for the candidate who speaks out the most for farmed animals. Remember you don't have to tell anyone who that will be!
  3. Use social networks (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, You Tube) to promote Compassion and reach even more people with our four demands.
  4. Speak personally with family, friends and colleagues to let them know that farm animal welfare matters to you and will determine who you will vote for.

Let us know what happens by contacting our supporter services team.

Read Compassion CEO, Philip Lymbery's blog article Farm Animals and the General Election.