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Brexit trade deals ‘biggest risk to animal welfare’
"The biggest risk to animal welfare post-Brexit would be the wrong kind of trade deal - or no trade deal at all."
Expert panel says imports must meet UK’s high welfare standards

Post-Brexit trade deals are the greatest threat to animal welfare, experts warned during a fringe event at the Conservative party conference.

The event, hosted by the RSPCA, saw an expert panel debate the future of higher welfare farming and British agriculture post-Brexit.

Agricultural experts warned that the government’s commitment to welfare in farming could be undermined if we do not insist on the same standards when striking international trade deals.

Vice president of the National Farmers Union, Stuart Roberts, said: “It is one thing to have the highest standards domestically in the UK but we have to use those same standards and ethics when it comes to future trade deals. Because otherwise all we’ll do is give politicians and consumers the opportunity to export their consciences.”

RSPCA’s head of public affairs David Bowles added: “The biggest risk to animal welfare post-Brexit would be the wrong kind of trade deal - or no trade deal at all. Ensuring animal products that are imported to the UK meet our high welfare standards must be a priority not just for animal welfare reasons but also to protect the integrity of UK food and the commercial viability of UK farming.”

Agriculture minister George Eustice confirmed the government’s commitment to protect UK animal welfare standards in any future trade deals. He also revealed that the new Agriculture Bill, which has a second reading on 10 October, will contain provisions for animal welfare payments to incentivise farms. Animal welfare pilot schemes will start in 2020 and could be given priority funding.

Mr Eustice said: “The way we treat animals is the hallmark of a civilised society … we won’t give up or change our standards in pursuit of a deal.”

The panel also agreed that consumers must be empowered to make better decisions about the meat and animal products they buy. They welcomed the definition of animal welfare as a public good, as well as the holistic approach to food production, animal health and welfare in the upcoming Agriculture Bill.

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Report: A third of Welsh birds are in decline

News Story 1
 A report by RSPB Cymru and partnering ornithology organisations has revealed that a third of bird species in Wales are in significant decline.

90 per cent of Wales is farmed and there is now pressure to implement new land management policies that will aid in nature restoration.

Patrick Lindley, Maritime Ornithologist for Natural Resources Wales, commented: “The problems that confront UK birds, whether they are breeding or non-breeding, are pressure and threats that confront entire ecosystems.

“Birds are a great indicator to the health of our environment. The continued population declines of birds of farmed, woodland and upland habitats suggest there are large geographic themes that are having a detrimental impact.”  

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News Shorts
BSAVA announces winner of 2019 Bourgelat Award

One of the world’s leading small animal medicine specialists is set to receive the prestigious Bourgelat Award at BSAVA Congress 2019.

Professor Mike Herrtage will be recognised for his major research into metabolic and endocrine diseases, including diabetes mellitus, Cushing’s disease and Addison’s disease.

During his career, Prof Herrtage has co-authored more than 100 scientific papers and written more than 200 other publications such as abstracts, books and chapters. He also continues to be a source of inspiration for thousands of undergraduate and postgraduate veterinary surgeons.