The chief government of the RSPCA has sounded the alarm over the prospect of post-Brexit free-trade deals with nations the place farm animals are handled in ways in which could be unlawful within the UK.
Animal welfare requirements might be “watered down by the again door” and UK farmers might be undercut if the federal government indicators agreements with different nations the place livestock are made to endure needlessly, Chris Sherwood warned.
Animal organisations worry that Britain’s forthcoming deal with Australia might set a precedent for comparable preparations all over the world that will result in elevated cruelty.
The federal government needs offers with New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, India and the US, and is heading in the right direction to hitch the Trans-Pacific Partnership alliance, which incorporates elements of Asia and Japan.
The consultants imagine the UK might signal as much as import meat from pigs held in farrowing crates for lengthy intervals, beef from hormone-fed cattle, chickens crammed into overcrowded, barren cages, and milk from genetically modified cows, amongst different items.
Mr Sherwood informed The Impartial the Australia deal might set a “very regarding” precedent.
“Nations like Brazil have huge exports of pork and beef, and our concern is animal welfare requirements might be watered down by the again door and can undercut our farmers,” he mentioned.
“It’s incongruent with the nice messages from the federal government on animal welfare – we’ve simply had the Saved Animals Invoice and Animal Sentience Invoice, and a dedication within the Queen’s Speech to guard requirements.
“The federal government is on document as saying they wish to defend and improve animal welfare, and all we’re doing is reminding them of that.
“It’s not simply the RSPCA – the general public care about the place animals come from and the way they’re handled. These are sentient beings – animals which have emotions and really feel ache.”
Many different nations permit pigs to be saved in sow stalls and farrowing crates – pens which can be so tight the animal can’t even flip round – and chickens to be extra tightly crammed into sheds.
Britain banned sow stalls in 1999, and farrowing crates are authorized however controversial.
Canada and the US nonetheless have battery cages for egg-laying hens, that are thought of so merciless the UK banned them in 2012.
India, which is assumed to wish to export liquid and dried eggs to the UK, retains its total nationwide flock of egg-laying hens in battery cages.
The federal government is deeply cut up between factions corresponding to commerce secretary Liz Truss who’s believed to wish to negotiate as many offers as potential and ex-environment secretary Michael Gove, who favours doing offers provided that UK animal-welfare requirements usually are not compromised.
“The issue the federal government has is it doesn’t have a commerce coverage,” mentioned David Bowles, head of public affairs on the RSPCA. “They want a commerce coverage in order that not solely do they present different nations earlier than negotiations what their pink strains are, but additionally to persuade the general public and enterprise and farmers they’re not promoting out these requirements.
“Though they’ve a manifesto dedication to not undermine animal-welfare requirements, they don’t but have a technique of displaying how they’ll obtain that, nor a commerce technique that claims what’s their objective on commerce – is it as many as potential and hope for one of the best or simply high-quality agreements and guarantee they don’t undermine our requirements.”
“Sure MPs say now we have a free-trade settlement with the EU so why can’t now we have one with different nations, however the important truth they’re lacking is that now we have equal requirements on animal welfare to the EU introduced up over the previous 47 years. However each nation we’re doing offers with has decrease requirements than ours.”
The Commerce and Animal Welfare Coalition, a part of the Eurogroup for Animals alliance, mentioned it feared an Australia deal would “set the template forfuture agreements, whether or not for New Zealand, India, Mercosur [Latin America], the broader Trans-Pacific Partnership or the US”, including that the UK mustn’t “outsource” decrease welfare manufacturing.
When requested to reply, a authorities spokesperson gave solely the wording that was within the Conservative manifesto: “In all of our commerce negotiations, we won’t compromise on our excessive environmental safety, animal welfare and meals requirements.”