Defra unveils switch to industry-led welfare codes

The government is to devolve the role of providing guidance for the nation’s animal welfare codes to individual livestock sectors, with the new approach starting on April 27 with the release of new codes for meat chicken.

The move is seen by government as the best way to achieve a “rapid and essential updating” of the current guidelines, will all livestock sectors being required to deliver their own codes from now on.

“Given the need to get on with updating the guidance available to farmers and the benefits of industry-led guidance, Ministers have agreed that the process should continue on a case by case basis, beginning with the meat chicken guidance,” said Defra in a “next steps” declaration within the recently published Government response on the reform of farm animal welfare codes report.

“The British Poultry Council consulted on a meat chicken guidance in June 2013 and the intention is to now revoke the Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock: Meat chickens and breeding chickens and replace it with this guidance. Defra will then begin working with other livestock sectors in a staged timetable of reform to develop species specific guidance on how to comply with farm animal welfare legislation.

“Defra will be conducting a post-implementation review to assess whether the proposed benefits have been realised and if any unforeseen costs have resulted from the reform of farm animal welfare codes. It will include an analysis of the extent to which the move from a statutory underpinning has had any impact on the weight courts accord the welfare guidance when prosecutions are being sought.”

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