Live animal export ban receives royal assent

A ban on exporting live animals will now go ahead as the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Act received royal assent.

A ban on exporting live animals will now go ahead as the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Act received royal assent.

Defra explained that the ban is capitalising on post-Brexit freedoms and “bolstering the UK’s position as a world leader in animal welfare standards”.

The legislation delivers on the government’s key manifesto commitment to ban the export of live animals, including cattle, sheep, and pigs for slaughter and fattening.

The Conservatives first proposed the ban in 2017 and touted it as a benefit of Brexit because European Union trade rules prevent member states from banning live exports to other countries in the bloc.

Some of highest animal welfare standards worldwide  

Environment secretary Steve Barclay

The act aims to ensure that animals are slaughtered domestically in high welfare UK slaughterhouses, reinforcing our position as a world leader on animal welfare, boosting the value of British meat, and helping to grow the economy.

Environment secretary Steve Barclay said: “We are proud to have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world.

“Our new Act makes use of post-Brexit freedoms to deliver one of our manifesto commitments and strengthen these standards even further by preventing the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening, which we know causes animals unnecessary stress and injury.”

Transported when necessary

Defra’s spokesperson added that, as the highest ranked G7 nation according to World Animal Protection’s Index, the UK government is committed to high animal welfare standards and ensuring all animals are treated well at all stages of life.

They added: “We have been clear that animals should only be transported when necessary, and if possible, should not travel long distances to be slaughtered.

“Live exports in other specific circumstances, for example, for breeding and competitions, will still be allowed provided animals are transported in line with legal requirements which protect their welfare.”

This bill also follows a manifesto commitment and Action Plan for Animal Welfare pledge to ban the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening.

Enabling regulations will be made as soon as possible to bring the ban into force, Defra confirmed.

Favourable market conditions

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker commented on the news: “The export trade for live animals for further finishing or slaughter has effectively been closed since the UK’s departure from the EU due to no live animal border facilities able to process consignments.

“Fortunately, market conditions in the UK have been favourable without this and so we have seen little negative impact of not having exported lambs for slaughter or further finishing – and exports of British lamb/sheep meat via carcasses and cuts into the EU continue to remain strong.”

He added that the ban does not include breeding animals and the government is keen to promote the live export of breeding animals.

“NSA supports this aiding this process – continuing taking P&O bookings for the movement of breeding animals once facilities able to take live animals on the other side of the channel can be set up.

“Due to the lack of Border Control Posts (BCP) there have been devastating impacts for our breeding animal trade. British genetics and breeding stock are highly sought after worldwide and preventing this trade through the lack of BCPs has had significant financial implications for many businesses,” Mr Stocker concluded.

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