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General Election 2019: A win for farm animals?

News Section Icon Published 13/12/2019

Boris Outside Number 10 2Copyright (003)

The election results have been announced and the Conservatives remain in power. Now, we urge the party to improve farm animal welfare by delivering on recent pledges.

Turn words into actions

Time and again, Boris Johnson has said he can end live exports if we leave the EU. This would save thousands of sheep and young calves every year from needless suffering during long, gruelling journeys overseas. We are now calling on him to turn words into actions and deliver a ban on UK live exports for fattening and slaughter.

The Conservative Party manifesto made some promising commitments in relation to farm animal welfare. Alongside taking steps towards “abolishing” live animal exports, there were also commitments on taking action against antibiotic resistance and introducing new laws on animal sentience.

Falling short

It was disappointing, however, that the manifesto did not indicate plans to ban the use of cages in farming. Earlier this year, over 100,000 UK residents signed a parliamentary petition calling on the Government to End the Cage Age. It is now time for the Government to give this issue the important consideration that it so clearly deserves. The British public wants to trust that the food produced on UK farms is raised to higher welfare standards. A life in a cage falls well short of this.

Of course, the future trading relationship we strike with other countries will be critical in ensuring British farmers can move to these higher welfare systems. This should be a priority for both No.10 and Defra moving forward.

Preventing the import of products that do not meet our standards will be key to achieving this goal. The manifesto committed not to “compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards”, and this must be an absolute red line in any future trade negotiations. If the Government can’t protect our food and agriculture standards, they must walk away from the negotiating table.

Prior to the election we contacted leaders of all major UK parties encouraging them to introduce and support farm animal welfare policies. These asks can be seen here.

The UK: a world leader on animal welfare?

Our Senior Policy Manger, James West, said: “We firmly believe that if these asks were implemented by Boris Johnson, we could once again show the UK as a world leader on animal welfare.

“It is vital that the new Government recognises the need for a fundamental rethink on food and farming, including a policy approach which genuinely integrates health, diet, the environment, food security, farmer livelihoods and animal welfare.

“The Government made several positive commitments for farm animal welfare during the election. Now they have been returned to power, they simply must deliver on them!”

A voice for the voiceless

We now eagerly await to see who will be appointed to the various Government departments and look forward to working with them in order to further strengthen farm animal welfare in the UK.

We’d like to thank everyone who took the action to email their local candidates in order to give farm animals a voice during this election.