Ask your Parliamentary Candidates to support measures to advance farm animal welfare

As we approach election day on 4 July, please contact your Parliamentary Candidates and ask them to support measures to advance farm animal welfare

We often pride ourselves as a nation of animal lovers, yet this self-proclaimed title comes into question when we consider our treatment of farmed animals on factory farms. How can we truly, proudly claim this honour if we don’t address their welfare, or strive to make change happen for them? As a society, the inconsistency between our affection for our beloved companion animals and our sometimes-wilful blindness to the suffering of farm animals on industrial factory farms is stark. Indeed, the introduction of the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act 2022 recognises in law that animals have the capacity to feel positive and negative feelings – pleasure, joy, pain, fear and distress, and this applies to farm animals in just the same way as it does to cats and dogs- their ‘fluffier’ or ‘cuter’ companion counterparts. 

Farmed animals, by far the largest categorised animal group, equate to over a billion sentient animals and many millions of sentient fish, reared annually in the UK. Surely, this group – 95% of the entire animal population in the UK- should be at the forefront of all measures to advance animal welfare? There is no greater animal group by sheer number that will benefit more from protective legislation, which is why we are urging all political parties to take action and make farmed animal welfare a priority. If we’re serious about animal welfare in this country, as we proclaim to be, we need to be serious about farm animal welfare. 

Progress is being made. Earlier this year we celebrated the historic landmark law which bans live exports, relieving farm animals and horses from suffering gruelling journeys for fattening and slaughter abroad. This new law is the first of its kind in Europe, and honours an earlier, popular Conservative Party Manifesto commitment. 

Despite these strides, much more must be done. While we recognise and commend the three commitments outlined recently in the Conservative Manifesto to advance animal welfare—banning trophy hunting imports, tackling puppy smuggling, and addressing livestock worrying—there remains a pressing need for more comprehensive measures to protect farm animals. We must build on our achievements, such as the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Act, and continue to strive for improvements that will establish and secure the UK as a global leader in farm animal welfare. 

One of the most effective strategies to make the biggest difference to the highest number of animals is by implementing mandatory animal welfare labelling on all animal products intended for human consumption. Consumers should have the right to make informed choices based on the welfare standards under which the animal products were produced. Labels that indicate the method of production and slaughter will enable consumers to select products that align with their values, and support higher welfare standards in farming. The success of ‘free-range’ egg labelling demonstrates the positive impact such initiatives can have on consumer behaviour and animal welfare alike.

However, despite the relative success of ‘free-range’ egg labelling, an estimated 14 million laying hens are still crammed into tiny wire cages where they each have no space larger than an A4 sheet of paper – unable to even spread their wings. We’re calling on the next government to outlaw cages for laying hens and end this extreme suffering.

Additionally, around 60% of sows in the UK are confined into cramped pig farrowing crates for around a quarter of her breeding life, so small she cannot even turnaround or interact with her piglets. Some countries have outlawed these crates but they are still legal here in the UK. If we want to claim we’re world-leaders in farm welfare, we need to catch up with the countries who have already taken action on this issue. 

Likewise, the plight of many millions of farmed fish have too long being ignored. Despite being recognised by science and law as sentient creatures capable or fear, pain, joy and pleasure, they are not afforded the legal protections of farmed land animals. We wish to see legislation to ensure farmed fish receive equal legal protection to that of terrestrial farmed animals, including at time of slaughter. Fish have been overlooked for too long in efforts to advance animal welfare.

Animals and fish don’t have voices. It’s our duty to use ours to advocate for them and bring about the changes we desperately need. Whichever government comes into power on 4th July has a responsibility to advance farm animal welfare and put it at the forefront of their animal agenda. Voters should feel empowered to reach out to their candidate to ask their stance on these important issues, and ask them to support farm animal welfare reforms. The time for action is now. 

What the Conservatives have recently achieved to advance animal welfare:

  • Banned Live Exports for fattening and slaughter
  • Made microchipping compulsory for cats
  • Protected service animals through Finn’s Law
  • Made pet abduction a specific criminal offence
  • Ended the import and export of detached shark fins
  • Introduced the Ivory Act & extended it to encompass more species
  • Delivered the Wild Animals in Circuses Act
  • Introduced Animals (Low-Welfare Activities Abroad) Act 2023
  • Introduced the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway
  • Enshrined animal sentience in law
  • Introduced mandatory CCTV into slaughterhouses
  • Implemented tougher sentences for animal cruelty
  • Banned glue traps through the Glue Trap (Offences) Act
  • Banned keeping primates as pets
  • Formed Action Plan for Animal Welfare
  • Introduced Animal Sentience Committee
  • Established Blue Belt Programme
  • Introduced the Environment Act 2021
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