Industry has called for a live export assurance scheme to ensure the highest possible levels of welfare and transparency after footage showed Northern Irish cattle slaughtered in the Middle East under ‘appalling standards’.
First reported by the BBC, it is understood the cattle from Northern Ireland were sent to Spanish fattening farms but were resold in Europe to the Middle East.
Commenting on the footage, an NFU spokesperson said: "Animal welfare is a farmer’s top priority and livestock keepers want to ensure this care continues after the animals leave the farm.
“The standards in the abattoir seen in the video are appalling and fall far below what is expected and legally required of British farmers.
“All abattoirs in the UK are strictly monitored by an official vet and have mandatory CCTV installed to ensure the very highest standards are adhered to.”
Under EU rules which apply in the UK until at least January, the UK can only export some livestock to third countries for breeding, with a limit to the number of hours animals can travel without being rested and stocking densities.
The union has developed its own proposal for a livestock assurance scheme designed to stop excessively long journeys, which would introduce a requirement to set the final destination of the livestock.
But Government has been working on plans to end the export of live animals for slaughter altogether.
To ensure industry maintains access to as many markets as possible, including live exports, the NFU has launched a livestock transport and fitness to travel survey which will run until November 2 2020.
All farmers can complete the survey by visiting www.nfuonline.com/sectors/livestock/livestock-must-read/nfu-survey-seeks-information-on-livestock-and-poultry-transport-and-fitness-to-travel/