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Brexit provides opportunity to promote ‘high-standard Britain’
Published:  01 August, 2017

Britain is in a position to demonstrate its high standards of animal welfare upon leaving the European Union, according to the Eating Better alliance. 

The meat industry has been highlighted as a key area of focus moving forward. The Eating Better alliance report, created in conjunction with organisations including Friends of the Earth, WWF-UK, Compassion in World Farming, Sustain and the European Public Health Alliance, has urged the government to prioritise reshaping food and farming systems to deliver improved health, environment, climate change, animal welfare and farmer support initiatives. The report follows environment secretary Michael Gove’s announcement that the UK has a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to review animal welfare policy.

“British livestock farmers cannot compete with other countries in a race to the bottom, and they shouldn’t try,” commented Clare Oxborrow, senior campaigner for Friends of the Earth and chair of the Eating Better alliance.

“Brexit provides the opportunity to create, and promote, a high-standard Britain, one synonymous with globally leading production standards for animal welfare and the environment. It is this which should underpin our meat and dairy, particularly for our crucial export markets, not a bargain-bin Britain.”

According to the report, the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has failed to address the environmental and climate change impacts that livestock farming has. It also claimed that trade negotiations risked undermining UK standards of environmental protection, food safety and farm animal welfare. The report cited evidence provided from the government’s Committee on Climate Change to highlight that the UK was failing to meet its targets in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.

It has called for the UK’s farming subsidies to be spent on better delivery of public benefits to achieve a fairer, greener and healthier food system moving forward. The Eating Better alliance suggested 10 recommendations moving forward:

1) Replace CAP with an integrated food and farming strategy, which will drive progress towards climate change goals for agriculture and support public health
2) Encourage consumers to increase their plant-intake in their diets
3) Enforce high standards for environmental protection, food safety, antibiotic use in livestock farming and animal welfare
4) Public money for the provision of public goods, such as wildlife, farm animal welfare, environmental and landscape benefits
5) Sustainable levels of livestock production based on land capacity and ensuring that animals receive sustainable diets and high-welfare treatment
6) Protection of high-quality permanent grassland and carbon-rich soils that avoids overgrazing
7) Alternative, sustainably sourced animal feed to reduce the UK’s contribution to climate change
8) Clear and honest labelling, including a mandatory method of production label
9) Economic support for sustainable livestock production systems
10) Sufficient transition funding for innovation, research and training

Meat Trades Journal, in conjunction with sister sites British Baker and Food Manufacture is hosting its first Food Export Conference on Thursday, 5 October at Ardencote Manor in Warwickshire.