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Home > News > NPA welcomes Government commitment to work with industry on the new Animal Welfare Action Plan

NPA welcomes Government commitment to work with industry on the new Animal Welfare Action Plan

12th May 2021 / By Alistair Driver

A new raft of animal welfare measures announced by Defra today will have a significant impact on the pig industry, according to the NPA, which has pledged to work with Defra to achieve a sensible outcome for members.

George Eustice 6Defra said its new Animal Welfare Action Plan, published today, will ‘revolutionise the treatment of animals in the UK and introduce measures to protect the welfare of animals abroad’. 

It sets out a number of policy changes to ‘strengthen animal welfare standards and reinforce the UK's position as a global champion of animal rights’, now that we have left the EU.

The plan includes a number of proposed changes that will directly affect the pig sector, including:

  • Examining the use of farrowing crates for pigs and cages for poultry
  • Introducing new measures to improve welfare during transport, alongside ending the export of live animals for fattening and slaughter (which does not directly affect the pig sector)
  • Improving animal welfare at slaughter
  • Incentivising farmers to improve animal health and welfare through future farming policy under the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway.

You can view the document HERE

The plan covers over 40 topics under five themes – sentience and enforcement, international trade and advocacy, farm animals, companion animals and wild animals – and includes a mixture of legislative and non-legislative changes.

The Government will be introducing a series of Bills, following Tuesday’s Queen’s Speech, focusing on animal sentience, kept animals here in the UK and the welfare of animals.

Defra said there will also be a series of non-legislative changes to promote animal welfare over the coming months, with a number of regulations due to be brought forward as early as this year.

Other measures affecting farming include legislation to give the police more powers to protect farm animals from dangerous or out of control dogs.

To improve consumer transparency, there will be a review of labelling laws, while the new policies on animal sentience will bring new Ministerial accountability mechanisms into law to give greater assurance that animals are considered and recognised as sentient beings.  There will also be a requirement for regulation of animal sanctuaries, and the Government has pledged to ensure that ‘animal welfare is not compromised in all our future trade negotiations’.

Launching the plan, Defra Secretary George Eustice said: “We are a nation of animal lovers and were the first country in the world to pass animal welfare laws. As an independent nation we are now able to go further than ever to build on our excellent track record.”

NPA reaction 

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “We welcome the clarity this announcement brings on the direction of travel, although the full details on some key policy areas, including the future of farrowing crates, are yet to emerge.

“There is no doubt that some of these proposed measures could have a significant impact on the pig sector, particularly if they are brought in too quickly and do not fully consider the implications.

“This document has been described as the basis for discussion and we will now work closely with Defra to ensure we achieve sensible outcomes for members in all policy areas that will affect them.

 “The impact of any new legislation on the competitiveness of the industry must be taken into account. This includes ensuring that equivalent standards apply to pork imports.”