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Government asks for evidence on live exports

Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

THE UK government is looking for evidence into the live export of animals for slaughter in the view of potentially banning the practice post-Brexit.

Environment secretary Michael Gove said the “call for evidence begins to deliver on our manifesto commitment which aims to control the export of live animals for slaughter once we leave the European Union.”

In response, farmers union NFU Scotland said it was “calling for sound science and existing standards to be the basis of discussions prior to any changes to live export regulation”.

Scottish rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing previously said a ban on live exports would cause “substantial harm” to the country’s livestock industry, particularly in the Northern Isles.

Figures from 2016 showed that over four thousand sheep a year are transported from the UK to continental Europe for slaughter.

The government’s consultation will run for six weeks, while it will also look at higher welfare standards for live animal movements.

Gove said: “We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world which we are strengthening further by raising maximum sentences for animal cruelty to five years and introducing mandatory CCTV in abattoirs.

“All animals deserve to get the respect and care they deserve at every stage of their lives. This call for evidence begins to deliver on our manifesto commitment which aims to control the export of live animals for slaughter once we leave the European Union.

“With all options being considered, I am keen to hear from industry, the devolved authorities and charities on all possible options and evidence on this vital issue.”

NFU Scotland livestock chairman Charlie Adam said that animal welfare is a “top priority” for Scottish farmers.

“It is important that standards are in place to protect animal welfare during transport,” he said.

“Those standards must reflect the scientific evidence available, to deliver genuine benefits, and not be based purely on sentiment, delivering little benefit and damaging the livestock industry in the UK.

“The UK government’s ambition to be viewed as a premier trading partner post Brexit means we need to be able to demonstrate robust, evidenced welfare standards delivering confidence to UK consumers and our trading partners.

“As a premier trading partner, we should not be seeking to dismiss the ability to export high quality, high welfare livestock.”

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