A Conservative Party plan to force farmers to send their livestock to the nearest abattoir has been branded ‘nonsense’ by Countryside Alliance (CA) chief executive Tim Bonner.
According to the BBC, Defra Secretary Theresa Villiers has proposed a ban on ‘long journeys’ to slaughter in order to ‘choke off’ the live export trade.
Farming Minister George Eustice was challenged by NFU livestock board member Andrew Loftus, who hit out at the plan for showing a ‘lack of understanding of the capacity of abattoirs’, at a Conservative Party Conference event held by the CA in Manchester this week.
Mr Eustice appeared to suggest the idea was being considered in order to deliver on the Tory manifesto pledge to restrict live exports.
“We try in abattoirs to reduce stress on our animals and to design things in a way which will do that, and the idea you would have long journeys to abattoirs is something we should be looking at,” he said.
“When we are ready, we have said we want to strengthen restrictions, but we have not set out the full details of that and anything which was done would be subject to a full consultation.”
Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee Neil Parish, who joined Mr Eustice on the panel at the event, also criticised the plan and pointed out the slaughter industry was dominated by a few big players.
He said: “If we are going to go down this route, the retailers cannot demand one slaughterhouse for all their stock, and we are going to have to have some more slaughterhouses.
“If we are going to have everything slaughtered locally, where the devil are we going to do it?
“This thing has got to be thought through. I am not saying it is the wrong policy, but you cannot just suddenly say ‘you must slaughter locally’.”
Mr Bonner said the policy would not do anything to improve welfare, but was assumed to be ‘wonderful for voters’.
“Personally, I think it is nonsense,” he added.