Yesterday, (23rd June,) people throughout the UK voted in the greatly anticipated EU referendum. After months of speculation, the UK has opted to leave the European Union, but what effect will this have on animal welfare?
It is crucial that we take this opportunity to persuade the UK government to make positive steps to improve the lives of farm animals for the better.
We have long been campaigning for full and honest food labelling, including method of production across the EU. Mandatory method of production labelling for eggs sold in the EU was introduced in 2004, but we have been unable to make progress on the labelling of meat and dairy products. Now is the time for the UK government to act and introduce mandatory labelling to provide transparent information to consumers on food labels.
In our fight against live exports, we have been told time and again that since animals are legally considered ‘goods’, it would be unlawful under EU regulations to ban the trade of live animals from the UK. It is therefore crucial that, if the UK becomes free from such regulations, we work hard to persuade the UK government to ban this cruel trade.
We can no longer afford to overlook the use of antibiotics in farm animals.
Disease should be prevented by keeping animals in higher welfare, non-intensive conditions, and not through routine preventative use of antibiotics.
The UK government no longer has to follow EU policies and should therefore take this opportunity to reduce the overuse of antibiotics in farming, across the nation, before it is too late.
Changes for the better
There is clearly more work to do, but we must see this as an opportunity to encourage the UK government to make changes for the better. Compassion’s commitment to driving change for farm animal welfare worldwide remains undiminished.
We must see this as a major opportunity for the UK to go back to basics and reconceive our approach to food and farming. We must define what we want from our food and farming system and to then decide how to achieve this.
We need to devise a food and farming system that provides healthy diets including for the poorest in our society, that restores and nurtures soils, water and wildlife that treats animals as individuals and sentient beings rather than as machines and units of production.
As a nation, the UK may now have less influence on legislation and policy in the rest of Europe, but through Compassion’s significant presence and influence outside the UK, we will continue to act at national, EU and global levels.