RSPCA calls on Government to take urgent action over live transport

Every year, tens of thousands of sheep and calves, are travelling for hours or even days in crowded trucks, with limited access to food or water .

It has been two months since the conviction of the transporter and his company (Channel Livestock), after they failed to safeguard the welfare of hundreds of sheep. This particular case resulted in the deaths of over 40 sheep at the Port of Ramsgate in 2012 – highlighting the risks involved in the live export trade and the need to only trade in meat.

The RSPCA is urging the Governments in England and Wales to look at incentives to back Britain's sheep industry and to back 100% checks at the port.

“The Governments have repeatedly said they are in favour of a carcass trade – now is their chance to fund incentives to market English and Welsh lamb and maintain jobs in the livestock sector in a move that would improve the welfare of thousands of farm animals.” said David Bowles, RSPCA Head of Public Affairs.

“The court case also clearly showed the serious failings in the trade of live farm animals and the need for 100% checks at port,” he added.

The Government has always maintained a position of preferring “a trade in meat to one in live animals. It also believes that slaughter and subsequent processing should be as close to the place of production as possible.”

With decisions due on funding under the rural development plans in England and Wales, and the general reduction in imports of sheep meat, there is a real opportunity to grow the British market in sheep and lamb and reduce the export of live sheep.

"The calf industry provides us with a perfect example of how the market can be developed in Britain to support the farming industry and animal welfare.  The RSPCA is calling on the Governments in England and Wales to play their part in fulfilling their promise to have a carcasse only trade."

The RSPCA has written to George Eustice MP, the Defra Minister responsible for animal welfare and Anne McIntosh MP, the Chair of the EFRA Committee calling for urgent action to be taken to safeguard the welfare of thousands of farm animals involved in live exports and a government inquiry into the trade. Campaign supporters can also get involved at:



Notes for editors:

At present all the animals are inspected by Animal Health officials at the point of loading, however, animal welfare can deteriorate on the crowded lorries during their journeys to the port.

An answer to a parliamentary question last year revealed that a quarter of the statutory notices issued to live animal transporters in 2013 had been issued at the Port of Dover, supporting  the view that problems can and do occur after full inspections at loading. The RSPCA believe all lorries should receive a second check at the Port before they are loaded onto the ship, rather than only around one in three as is implemented at the moment.

The EU Commission has reported that there are  widespread failings to enforce Council Regulation 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and the Regulation states that the frequency of checks must be regular and proportionate to the risk – yet only 39 of the 100 lorries that left through Dover in 2013 were checked again.

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