FUW President Glyn Roberts called the decision to tighten the Welsh and English rules while opening the door to more foreign food produced to potentially lower welfare standards ‘utter hypocrisy’.
“The UK has agreed a trade deal in principle with Australia that will allow the importation of vast volumes of food produced from animals that are moved in conditions that would already be completely illegal in the UK,” he added.
Disadvantaging Welsh producers
“The UK Government is also actively negotiating trade agreements with other countries where animal movement rules do not come close to those enforced in the UK. Most consumers will not pay the extra price for high welfare and traceability, which consequently disadvantages Welsh producers adhering to such high standards.”
Roberts argued that Welsh producers could understand increased domestic regulation if it was coupled with further protection and support for their own produce.
He criticised the Government for not enshrining the need for high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards in the Agriculture Act 2020 or in its recent trade negotiations with Australia.
“We are of course against excessively long journeys for livestock and are confident that the strict standards we have in place already, coupled with the fact we have close export markets, means we are already world leaders when it comes to animal movement welfare standards,” he continued.
Lower welfare standards
Roberts highlighted that up to half of Australia's cattle and sheep live exports would be travelling over 9,000 miles by sea under ‘far lower’ welfare standards than those of UK livestock.
“To ban the crossing of animals from Holyhead to Dublin (56 miles) while agreeing to the importation of more food from countries such as Australia is utter hypocrisy, and is not a decision rooted in evidence, he concluded.
“In reality, increasing costs and restrictions for Welsh and English farmers by bringing in these additional rules will merely reduce the amount of food we produce in the UK and increase the amount of food produced in countries with lower standards - so the net impact for animal welfare will be negative.”