New legislation has been proposed in the King’s Speech to ban live exports of livestock for slaughter and fattening from the UK.
The Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill would ban the export of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and horses, with the exception of racehorses being allowed to move for breeding and races.
Although no animals have been exported for slaughter since the Government announced its intention to ban the practice in 2021, the legislation will ensure this is put on a permanent basis if the Bill passes.
While this would prevent animals being sent to the continent for slaughter from England, there are reports that the UK Government plans to work with the administrations in Scotland and Wales to make this apply across Great Britain.
Export ban of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and horses, with the exception of racehorses.
The Government said the Bill would “stop unnecessary stress, exhaustion and injury caused by exporting live animals” on long journeys for slaughter and fattening.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to the highest possible welfare standards for animals.
“The Scottish Government is committed to banning live exports of animals for fattening and slaughter, and to only allow live transport of livestock to and from Scottish islands and the mainland with stringent welfare standards in place.
“That commitment is shared by all governments on these islands, so we therefore welcome the UK Government’s announcement that it will introduce a bill to ban live exports and will now work jointly with the UK Government to implement this.”
Meanwhile, NFU Scotland’s animal health and welfare policy manager Penny Middleton said: “While disappointed, we are unsurprised at the latest Bill proposing a ban on the live export of stock for further finishing or slaughter from England and Wales has emerged.
NFU Scotland ‘disappointed but unsurprised’
“The devil will be in the detail and, despite a couple of false starts, the direction of travel from Government on this issue has been set for some time.
“Although routine live export for finishing or slaughter has been a very small part of Scotland’s livestock trade for several years, we would want the ability to grant exceptions in exceptional or unforeseen circumstances to be permitted if it is in the welfare interests of the livestock involved.”
The Bill also includes promises of money for farmers to improve animal welfare conditions and a £4 million fund for smaller abattoirs.