The Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation was established in 2016 to raise awareness on the lives of billions of animals reared on intensive farms around the world and how this impacts upon animal welfare, the environment and people’s health. We want to highlight the action people can take to help advance farm animal welfare.
We are a grassroots driven movement, founded by Chris Platt- Vice president of Esher & Walton Conservative Association and myself earlier this year. We have organised several animal welfare events with Conservative MP Hosts since 2010 in both the House of Commons and at Conservative party conferences. Lady Suzy and Sir Roger Gale MP are our Patrons.
Why does it matter? Animal welfare is an increasing concern amongst the general public, who frequently look to Government to take the lead in both maintaining and improving standards. The truth is that while progress is being made, we could be doing a lot more to improve animal welfare. The Conservative manifesto promises to uphold the highest standards of farm animal welfare. We believe it’s highly important that the welfare of farm animals is placed at the forefront of the Governments plan for food and farming along with its focus on productivity, competitiveness and technology.
The impact that the Brexit decision will have for our food and farming is hugely uncertain. It is a priority that there is not a reduction in farm animal welfare standards at the expense of a drive for new profitable economic trade deals The UK’s farming policies were formed within the EU and we now have the power to lead our own farming policies to advance farm animal welfare, protect the Environment and promote healthier public diets to combat heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
We ask the Government to prioritise ethical and sustainable farming measures and distance production methods away from intensive industrial production farms which negatively impact upon farm animal welfare, the Environment and public health.
Each year around 70 billion animals are farmed for meat, milk and eggs worldwide. (2.3 billion in the EU) with about 25,000 slaughtered every minute. The conditions under which the animals are raised, vary significantly. UK welfare standards are amongst the highest in the world but standards elsewhere may be lower, leading to significant unnecessary pain and suffering for millions of sentient beings.
We campaign for mandatory CCTV in all slaughterhouses. On February 4th 2015, Conservative MP Henry Smith, Co Chairman of the All Party Group for Animal Welfare in the House of Commons launched an Adjournment Debate calling for CCTV in all slaughterhouses.
Philip Hollingbone MP led a Westminster Hall debate on non-stun slaughter on February 23rd 2015 which was well supported by MPs. The debate was triggered by 115,000 public signatures. We call on the Government for meat to be labelled with method of slaughter so consumers can make an informed choice.
We further urge for the labelling of method of production so consumers know if they are buying intensively produced meat or not. It would be very helpful for consumers, producers and farm animals. Conservative MP Anne Main recently introduced a Bill calling for better labelling to back British Farmers. During her speech in parliament, the MP said that, ‘it is not right or fair that other European countries can dodge animal welfare issues, can hide anonymously behind inadequate labelling and at the same time undercut our farming industry.’ Anne made the claims after it was found that 6 EU countries were still non-compliant with key animal welfare measures. ‘’This wilful non-compliance cuts costs for EU farmers’’, said Mrs. Main, ‘‘and perpetuates misery for the animals. In this bill I want to make it a legal requirement so that we have the best information when we choose which products to buy off the shelves.’’ Currently, there is no country-of origin requirements for milk, and the less stringent rules for processed meats, where it is estimated that up to half of the total slaughtered meat volume falls into this category’
The Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation would like to see cages for hens and farrowing crates for pigs banned. In the UK, each year 44% of laying hens are caged and there are 500,000 sows, of which 55% are caged. The Farrowing Crate is a small metal cage in which pregnant sows are imprisoned for weeks on end, usually from a week before giving birth until their piglets are weaned three to four weeks later. She will be subjected to this roughly twice a year. The metal frame of the crate is just centimeters bigger than the sow’s body and severely restricts her movements.
As the UK will soon no longer be bound by the EU’s free trade rules, we urge the Government to ban the cruel live export trade which over the years has caused immense suffering to our animals. Thousands of UK sheep are exported each year on long journeys to France. UK calves are also exported – and travel as far afield as Spain, despite the fact that scientific research shows that young calves suffer greatly during long journeys.
Craig Mackinlay introduced a Private members Bill on the 10th May to change the law to allow Councils to ban the practice of live animal exports from ports they own.
The Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation supports the global day of action on August 29th 2016, where campaigners from at least 30 countries will be taking action against long distance animal transport. The event is being organized by Compassion in World Farming. We will be making the message clear: Animals Are Not Freight. The day marks the 20th anniversary of the biggest live export disaster when more than 67,000 sheep died as the ship carrying them burned. Groups all over the world, – including in South Africa, Canada, Australia, Israel and Iraq – have already pledged to take part.
Long distance live animal transports can cause immense suffering. Animals are crammed into vehicles. Overcrowding will mean that some cannot lie down at all, while those who do may be injured or trampled to death. Others endure long journeys with legs trapped and injured, or painfully stooping as they are not given sufficient headroom. They can be in transit for days, suffering extremes of temperature and often without sufficient food, water or rest and can be exhausted and dehydrated. Many die as a result. Animals are sentient beings and feel pain and stress just like we do. Animals are transported in both blistering heat and freezing conditions. Trucks may be faulty, and cause limbs to be trapped or animals to stoop for days on end. Some will be injured as those around them panic. Water may not be provided throughout these long journeys. Their immune systems are often reduced as a result of the hardship of long distance transport, resulting in diseases being caught more easily. Animals will often be shipped alive, only to be slaughtered at journey’s end using inhumane methods. In particular, when animals are exported from Europe to countries outside the EU they leave behind them all the legal protection they once received. This means they can face terrible abuse during transport and at the time of slaughter.
We believe animals should be slaughtered as close as possible to their place of birth and live transports to be replaced by a trade in meat. In 2011 and 2012 over 130,000 live animals were transported from ports in South East England.
We urge the Government to introduce a Bill in Parliament to ban live exports so that the ban is ready to come into force on the day that the UK leaves the EU. We want people to speak up for the voiceless and tell the world that Animals Are Not Freight.
A shorter version of this article was featured on ConservativeHome webiste on the 29th August 2016: http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2016/08/lorraine-platt-brexit-must-mean-more-regulations-on-animal-farming-not-less.html