From 1st January the UK will no longer be part of the European Union. Currently EU law covers around 80% of all current animal welfare legislation, including over 40 animal welfare laws, this breaks down as:
- 17 laws relevant to farm animals
- 11 laws for wildlife
- Eight laws covering animals used in research
- Four laws about companion animals
We need to ensure that 1st January doesn’t come to represent the day animal welfare standards in the UK became unrecognisable. FOUR PAWS, alongside several other animal welfare charities as part of the UK-EU Animal Welfare Taskforce, is concerned that as we edge into the final weeks of 2020 there is still no clarity on several key issues. Our primary concern will always be protecting and advancing animal welfare, but it has become apparent that these risks extend beyond animal welfare. If the Government does not take immediate action, then risks to our environment, human health, and the UK’s research and development industry.
At FOUR PAWS we are especially concerned about the impact on animals being transported across the borders, the risk of farmers culling their herds, increased animal testing and issues with pet travel.
The Government has made several commitments regarding animal welfare including the promise to ban hunting trophy imports and exports, banning long distance transport for fattening and slaughter, banning primates as pets and making cat microchipping compulsory as it is with dogs. They have also expressed their support for the Animal Sentencing Bill, which would see animal welfare offences being prosecuted up to five years in prison, as opposed to the current measly six months. In addition, they have supported call for the Animal Sentience Bill which would officially recognise animals as sentient beings in UK law.
However, they have yet to enact any of these commitments in the year that they have been in power, and unfortunately little progress has been made on any of these issues despite verbal support throughout the year.
Although the Agriculture Bill has been passed, replacing the EU Common Agricultural Policy, including promising wording around animal welfare, where farmers will be given subsidies for prioritising high welfare standards on farm – public money for public goods, there is still one major concern: the lack of animal sentience recognition int his Bill.
A further concerning issue is around new trade negotiations as we prepare for our exit from the EU. The Lords and many other MPs have lobbied for the addition of wording into the Agriculture Bill that would ensure we do not compromise the UK’s high animal welfare with low standard imports e.g. Chlorinated chicken or hormone fed beef from the US. Unfortunately, on numerous occasions the Government has fought against the addition of this wording, to the dismay of both campaigners and the farming industry, so we are left in a vulnerable position and at risk of taking several step backwards in animal welfare as a nation.
It is vital that by 1st January 2021, upon our exit of the EU, that we have agreed new legislation that will protect animals nationwide and ensure that we remain leaders in animal welfare worldwide.
We will continue to strive for a better deal for animals and for their voices to heard.
What can I do to help animals?
There are lots of things you can do to help animals as the Brexit transition period comes to an end:
Write to your MP today or meet with them in person, and ask them to support a Better deal of Animals, where animal welfare is at the top of the agenda in trade negotiations
Sign petitions and support campaign actions – the more of us that work together, the greater our voice will be
Get informed and spread the word - be vocal on social media, and even tweet your MP or the Prime Minister, make your voice heard, together we can make a difference