More details emerged earlier this week (15th June) about the new UK-Australian trade deal, and it appears even worse than we feared for farm animals.
The Australian Government has announced that, during the first year of this deal, tens of thousands of tonnes of Australian meat would be allowed into the UK, tariff-free. Then the quotas would grow, year-on-year, until tariffs are totally eliminated.
Crucially, too, there has been little indication that the trade deal will require imports from Australia to meet UK animal welfare standards.
Free trade, at what cost?
Allowing tariff-free imports of agri-food products from Australia could undermine the UK's network of extensive, pasture-based farmers, damaging the country's hard fought for animal welfare standards, as well as causing more animal suffering in Australia by encouraging low-welfare practices.
"To claim that Australia’s animal welfare standards are amongst the highest in the world is false,” said Dr Nick Palmer, Head of Compassion in World Farming UK. “The Government refer to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) ranking Australia highly on veterinary services. But that is not the same thing as having good animal welfare - the OIE does not score countries for welfare. In addition, World Animal Protection’s 'Animal Protection Index' ranks Australia two levels lower for animal welfare than the UK.
"We know many Australian beef cattle are fattened in feedlots, where the animals spend months in intensive conditions, fed largely on grain rather than grazing on pasture. Antibiotic use in Australian agriculture is astonishingly high and Australia still permits the use of barren battery cages for hens, which have been illegal in Britain and the EU for many years.
"For years, the UK Government has insisted that the country’s animal welfare standards won’t be put at risk by post-Brexit trade deals. But by agreeing to this Free Trade Agreement with Australia, they are breaking their promises and are putting the wellbeing of animals at risk."
Take a stand against broken promises
We must fight this potential threat to higher welfare farming in the UK, and to the wellbeing of animals in Australia. Please, speak out against the UK Government’s broken promises.