Cat­tle call

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country - Edited by An­nun­ci­ata Wal­ton

VERY year, Bri­tain ex­ports 30,000 live an­i­mals for slaugh­ter. They travel in dire con­di­tions that some don’t sur­vive and, days later, when they reach their des­ti­na­tion—of­ten a coun­try be­yond Europe, where wel­fare rules are less strict or non-ex­is­tent, per­haps in North Africa or the Mid­dle East—they can face rit­ual slaugh­ter, with­out be­ing stunned, for re­li­gious fes­ti­vals.

Un­til now, MPS have ar­gued that EU laws pre­vent the UK from block­ing trade in cat­tle, pigs and sheep—at­tempts to re­place the ex­ports of live an­i­mals with chilled car­casses have been ruled un­law­ful un­der EU law—but, with Brexit on the hori­zon, there is new hope, which in­spired hun­dreds to march on West­min­ster in protest last year, and a pe­ti­tion to sign.

‘Investigations [into the trans­port of an­i­mals] by the RSPCA and Com­pas­sion in World Farming have shown chronic over­crowd­ing, lack of ad­e­quate wa­ter and food, ex­ces­sive heat and cold, lack of ven­ti­la­tion and al­most al­ways no qual­i­fied vet­eri­nary as­sis­tance,’ ex­plains TV pre­sen­ter Selina Scott, who, along with ac­tress Joanna Lum­ley, an­i­mal-wel­fare cam­paigner Celia Ham­mond, for­mer BBC news an­chor Jan Leem­ing and var­i­ous MPS, has launched a cam­paign to ban all live ex­ports as soon as the UK leaves the EU.

EPhilip Lym­bery, head of Bri­tish char­ity Com­pas­sion in World Farming, says the whole sys­tem is ‘stuck in a rut’. ‘We are giv­ing busi­ness to Con­ti­nen­tal abat­toirs, so the trade is not just hor­ri­bly cruel, we’re also send­ing jobs abroad,’ he con­tin­ues. ‘Mid­dle East­ern coun­tries have the idea that fresher meat is bet­ter, but with re­frig­er­ated lor­ries and ships, meat can be ex­ported freshly.’

Back in 1996, 67,488 sheep died when their ship caught fire in the In­dian Ocean —21 years later, the prob­lem per­sists and it’s global. Aus­tralia is the world’s largest ex­porter of live an­i­mals, trad­ing some three mil­lion a year to the Mid­dle East and South­east Asia, the EU ex­ports two mil­lion farm an­i­mals a year and, last year, in­ves­ti­ga­tors found that thou­sands of cat­tle, in­clud­ing un­weaned calves, were be­ing trans­ported thou­sands of miles from East­ern Europe to Is­rael, Gaza and the Mid­dle East, on rust­bucket ves­sels, from which an­i­mals that died due to the in­hu­mane con­di­tions were tossed over­board. New Zealand has al­ready given a lead; it banned the trans­port of live an­i­mals across bor­ders for slaugh­ter in 2007. Shouldn’t we fol­low this ex­am­ple?

Visit https://pe­ti­tion.par­lia­ment.uk/pe­ti­tions/ 170885 to sign the pe­ti­tion: if it gar­ners 10,000 sig­na­tures, the Gov­ern­ment will re­spond; 100,000 and the is­sue will be con­sid­ered for de­bate in the Com­mons.

Cruel world: Bri­tish with­drawal from the EU could mean the end of live ex­ports

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