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RSPCA warns of collapse of farming standards in no-deal Brexit
Animal welfare standards in the UK are currently far higher than many non-EU countries.

Charity responds to NFU comments regarding deregulation

The RSPCA has warned against the deregulation of farm animal welfare standards in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The warning comes after the president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said that to compete with cheap, low-quality animal products which could pour into Britain in a no-deal Brexit, the Government’s only option will be to deregulate the industry.


UK animal welfare standards are currently far higher than many non-EU countries with which it is seeking trade deals. The USA, for example, still administers growth hormones to its cows and washes chicken in chlorine. 


Until recently, the Government has committed to maintaining or raising the UK’s animal welfare standards once the UK leaves the European Union. But the RSPCA fears that, in a no-deal scenario, the UK may seek to import food from other countries like the USA, where animal welfare standards are not in line with the UK.


It says that in the increasingly likely scenario of a no-deal Brexit, the UK would be under pressure to accept farm products produced which are lower or even illegal for British producers. The only way to compete with the influx of cheaper chicken, the NFU president has said, is to deregulate the industry.


“Chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef on our supermarket shelves is now much closer to being a terrifying reality,” said RSPCA head of public affairs David Bowles.


“We have always said that a no-deal Brexit could result in a race to the bottom in terms of animal welfare standards and, worryingly, the Government’s promise to maintain those standards sounds increasingly hollow. If the farming industry does deregulate because of a no-deal Brexit, food products which are currently banned from being sold anywhere in the EU due to the unacceptable method of their production will be allowed to be sold in the UK.”


He continued: “Eight out of 10 people believe that animal welfare laws in the UK should be improved or at least kept at the same level after the UK leaves the EU. If the Government is serious about ensuring the long-term survival of the UK’s farming industry, the UK should be building on its reputation for gold standard farm animal welfare. 


“Scrapping farm animal welfare regulations and lowering welfare standards cannot and must not be the answer.”

The RSPCA is calling on the Government to plan for long-term sustainability. This means maintaining and strengthening regulation, ensuring the viability of high welfare schemes and building consumer demand by extending the method of product labelling.


The animal welfare charity would also like to see the commitment to protecting the UK’s domestic animal welfare standards enshrined in law under the Agriculture and Trade Bills and all current animal welfare laws, at the very least, to be kept to the same standard.

 

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Pair of endangered Amur leopard cubs born at Colchester Zoo

News Story 1
 Keepers at Colchester Zoo are hailing the arrival of a pair of critically endangered Amur leopard cubs.

The cubs were born to first-time parents Esra and Crispin on the 9 September. This is the first time the Zoo has bred Amur leopard cubs on-site.

Amur leopards originate from the Russian Far East and north-east China. In the wild they are threatened by climate change, habitat loss, deforestation and the illegal wildlife trade.

The cubs are said to be “looking well” and are expected to emerge from their den in a few weeks.  

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RCVS names Professor John Innes as chair of Fellowship Board

Professor John Innes has been elected chair of the 2019 RCVS Fellowship Board, replacing Professor Nick Bacon who comes to the end of his three-year term.


Professor Innes will be responsible for making sure the Fellowship progresses towards fulfilling its strategic goals, determining its ongoing strategy and objectives, and reporting to the RCVS Advancement of the Professions Committee on developments within the Fellowship.