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Agriculture bill should restrict lower animal welfare imports, says RSPCA
Supporting UK farmers to reach higher welfare standards is welcome but not enough, says the RSPCA.

More support needed for UK farmers 

The RSPCA is urging the UK Government to include restrictions on imports of farm animal products produced to lower welfare standards in the new Agriculture Bill.

Providing evidence at the agriculture bill committee on Tuesday, the charity argued against the prospect of trade deals allowing food imports which would be illegal to produce in the UK.

Assistant director of public affairs at the RSPCA David Bowles said: “While the RSPCA is delighted the Government will be supporting farmers to reach higher welfare standards, it’s essential that restrictions on lower welfare imports are written into the bills at the same time."

Mr Bowles warned that, without these restrictions, cheaper food produced to lower welfare standards than are allowed in the UK would be let in and sold on shelves, threatening farmers’ livelihoods.

He explained: “For example, 55 per cent of the pork and bacon we eat is imported. The USA still uses sow stalls (illegal in the UK), so if we import pig products from there, we’ll be opening up the door to cheaper imports which are produced to far lower welfare standards. That’s not what the consumer wants.”

The charity expressed its support for the new farm support system. It hopes that financial assistance will help farmers to deliver higher welfare standards.

Mr Bowles continued: “This is a very exciting time for farmers. Not only are there particular opportunities to establish base welfare standards in markets for sheep, chicken, beef and dairy, but also in other areas.  For example zero per cent of ducks have access to full body water, it’s a tragedy for ducks in the UK.

“As we find ourselves at a crossroads of animal welfare, it is so important we get this right to safeguard our farmers and to ensure the public can continue to access food produced to high welfare standards.”

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BEVA gives vets access to free membership for three months

News Story 1
 BEVA has announced that it is cutting membership renewal charges for the next three months in order to support all veterinary professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Memberships for all existing BEVA members will be extended until 30 June 2020. Veterinary professionals who are not members of BEVA will also be able to sign up for a free membership until 30 June 2020.

BEVA president Tim Mair said: "In this extraordinary time of global crisis our profession, as with many industries, is under immense pressure. By offering free membership we are giving equine vets easy access to a wealth of supportive resources and online CPD."

To sign up please visit the BEVA website.

Image (c) BEVA. 

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LOVE Gorgie Farm seeking veterinary volunteers

LOVE Gorgie Farm in Edinburgh is looking for people with veterinary and animal care experience, who would be interested in volunteering to help care for its animals during these difficult times.

The community-owned charity farm opened to the public only last month, but decided to close temporarily amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Its three-person team is working to care for the animals behind the scenes and the farm is now operating as a food bank for the public, delivering free breakfasts to local school children.

In an effort to build a contingency plan to secure the welfare of its animals, LOVE Gorgie Farm is looking for volunteers who would be able to step in if any team members fell sick or needed to self-isolate.

Those interested in volunteering are asked to contact gorgie@l-o-v-e.org.uk