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From the editor: Animal welfare rules need fair and consistent implementation'

In the push for greater animal welfare standards there is every chance that some farmers will feel it is one way traffic, with the industry bearing the brunt of new rules and potential cost.

It is therefore only right for union leaders to make it clear that while UK farming has long prided itself on its high levels of welfare, and is certainly open to the challenge of further safeguards, this should not be to the detriment of domestic agriculture, especially if substandard imports are brought in from abroad.

 

It is one of the travesties of global trade that while the UK adheres to some of the highest standards of production anywhere on earth, it is often not the same for imported products which flood into the country as part of a cheap food culture.

 

And then there is also the challenge for Government to ensure that respect for sentient beings, as animals will now be classed, must be implemented in laws which safeguard livestock from those using the countryside for recreation and pleasure. There is no point making farmers adhere to strict legislation and then, for example, not punishing a dog owner whose animal has savaged a sheep or caused distress to cows.


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As our two In your Field writers point out in their columns this week, now lambing is done and cows are out at pasture the levels of stress and anxiety among farmers starts to mount for fear of potential dogs attacks. With dog ownership booming, there needs to be effective deterrents in place to prevent these ongoing incidents.

 

And even more contentiously, what do these new welfare proposals mean for the future of non-stun slaughter in the UK? If animal sentience is enshrined in law then surely the slaughter of animals without stunning on religious grounds will have to cease. Surely there cannot be different interpretations of the rules in different parts of the food supply chain?

 

When it comes to the implementation of these rules, a level playing field approach will be needed.

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