Fatwire Article Portlet

Brexit and animal welfare

We’re campaigning to ensure animal welfare isn't compromised when we leave the EU, and that our high standards are protected. We'd like to see the process of leaving the EU as an opportunity to improve animal welfare.

What Brexit puts at risk for animal welfare

  • Pigs running towards camera outdoors by pigsty © RSPCA
    80 percent of current animal welfare legislation comes from EU law (with over 40 animal welfare laws)
  • EU animal welfare laws cover four key areas – there are 17 laws relevant to farm animals, 11 laws for wildlife, eight laws covering animals used in research, and four laws about companion animals
  • Current EU law, known as the Lisbon Treaty (a binding agreement between EU member countries), recognises animals as sentient beings, this means they're understood as having the capacity to feel pain and suffering
  • Depending on which trade framework is agreed post-Brexit, there’s a possibility that new trade agreements will be made with countries which have lower animal welfare standards. For example, the USA gives growth hormones to their cows, still uses conventional battery cages (in most states), don't have species specific slaughter regulations and still uses sow stalls in most pig production
  • The UK farming industry currently receives over €3 billion in EU subsidies and the UK Government will now be exploring a new support system for farms.

You can find a more detailed summary of animal welfare laws in the UK before and after Brexit in Brexit - getting the best for animals (PDF 4.24MB).

What we want to see for animal welfare post Brexit

In the lead up to Brexit, the UK government will decide which EU laws we'll keep and carry out all trade negotiations, then the devolved governments will implement across the UK. During this process, we'd like to ensure the following is maintained or improved upon.

  • All current animal welfare laws, at the very least, to be kept to the same standard
  • All animals to still be recognised as sentient beings
  • A new system of farm subsidies – rewarding the farming industry for higher welfare standards
  • Free trade agreements that prohibit products being imported with lower welfare standards
  • Improvement in key areas of animal welfare, such as long distance transport, food labelling, trade of endangered species and puppy imports.

For further information on these issues please see our Brexit breifings and read our Into the fold: help for farmers (PDF 1.72MB) report.

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