New legislation putting an end to the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening from Great Britain was introduced in Parliament on Monday.
The Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill bans the export of live animals including cattle, sheep, and pigs. In practice, the Bill will have minimal impact on the pig sector as pigs are not exported for slaughter from the UK.
Defra said this legislation will ‘stop animals enduring unnecessary stress, exhaustion and injury on long journeys’. The Bill will ensure that animals are slaughtered domestically in high welfare UK slaughterhouses, reinforcing our position as a world leader on animal welfare, boosting the value of British meat and helping to grow the economy.
Defra said the Government is committed to high animal welfare standards and ensuring all animals are treated kindly at all stages of life. “We have been clear that animals should only be transported when necessary, and if possible should not travel long distances to be slaughtered,” it said.
Live exports in other specific circumstances, for example, for breeding and competitions, will still be allowed provided animals are transported in line with legal requirements aimed at protecting their welfare. However, currently it is very difficult to send live pigs to Europe for breeding because of a new requirement to have Border Control Posts in place for inspections at points of arrival.
Defra Secretary Steve Barclay said: “We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world.
“This Bill makes use of post-Brexit freedoms to strengthen these standards by preventing the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening, which we know causes animals unnecessary stress and injury.
“The legislation follows a 2020 consultation on ending live animal exports in which 87% of respondents agreed that livestock should not be exported for slaughter and fattening. This Bill also follows a manifesto commitment and Action Plan for Animal Welfare pledge to ban the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening.”
Kerry Postlewhite, assistant director of campaigns and prevention at the RSPCA, said: “After fifty years of campaigning to end live exports, it is so important, and welcome, that the UK Government is acting to ban the live export of animals – outlawing the long, crowded journeys, mental exhaustion, physical injury, dehydration and stress that are a reality for farm animals on these unnecessary journeys.”
Defra said the Bill was ‘just one part of a wider Government effort to enhance our existing world-leading standards’. It highlighted the introduction of new statutory welfare codes for pigs, laying hens and meat chickens, a ban on the use of conventional battery cages for laying hens and making CCTV mandatory in slaughterhouses.