Animal welfare needs investment

While welcoming many of the new regulations being introduced by the UK government on animal welfare as consolidating the country’s world-leading standards, the National Sheep Association has warned of possible unintended consequences of the legislation.

The organisation said that without significant investment in new abattoirs and slaughtering facilities the proposed ban on live exports and reductions in travel time could severely impact producers in some areas of the country.

NSA chief executive, Phil Stocker said the availability, capacity and location of abattoirs and slaughter facilities, along with shortages of staff, needed to be addressed urgently – as did the standards which would be applied to imports under proposed trade deals.

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He said that to be able to cater for a ban on live exports, there needed to be a reversal in the sharp decline in abattoirs in recent decades which had fallen from 30,000 in the 1930s to around 250 today.

“Most farmers want to keep journeys to slaughter as short as possible, but there still needs to be choice and competition in order to maintain prices,” said Stocker.

“The loss of smaller, local abattoirs has meant that livestock has had to travel longer distances within the UK and it has led to an obstacle for those trying to establish local and direct supply chains at a time when there is clear consumer interest.”

And he pointed out that for some farmers in the south east of England the closest facility had been just across the Channel in France.

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