15 farming changes Labour pledges in animal welfare plan

Labour has pledged to ban the badger cull, tackle livestock worrying and end the use of cages on British farms by 2025. 

Released on Wednesday (28 August), Labour’s animal welfare manifesto emphasises the need for high welfare standards in farming and states that outdated and cruel practices must be phased out.

It calls the badger cull “inhumane and ineffective” and says the party supports a move away from highly intensive, environmentally damaging farming methods.

See also: What to do if you’re a victim of… sheep worrying

Farmers Weekly has listed the 15 key changes Labour wants to make to the agriculture industry.

  1. End the badger cull

    Labour says it would instead work on non-lethal interventions to reduce the incidence of disease in cattle.

  2. End the use of cages on British farms by 2025
  3. Introduce a phased ban on sow farrowing crates

    Labour says a reasonable phase-out period would allow replacement with safe, free-farrowing systems. Farmers would be supported during a transition period by farm support payments.

  4. Ban live exports for slaughter and fattening

    Labour says this would include an exemption for breeding animals, providing provision was in place ensuring transport under genuinely high welfare standards. This would also include an exemption for livestock transported across the Northern Ireland border.

  5. Ban imports of foie gras
  6. Take action to tackle livestock worrying
  7. Commit to keeping and strengthening the statutory codes of practice covering the treatment of farm animals
  8. Research into the impact on animal welfare of highly intensive livestock farming practices
  9. Bring in measures to effectively tackle hare coursing
  10. Design post-Brexit farm subsidies to reward and encourage both high animal welfare standards and environmental practices

    Labour says it would embed and enhance in policy the responsibility for farmers to conserve, enhance and create safe habitats for birds and animals during the breeding season, and encourage the growth of wildflowers.

  11. Introduce a formal whistleblowing procedure through the Food Standards Agency

    Labour says this would enable employees to report bad behaviour and practice within abattoirs.

  12. Increase management accountability of poor employment practices that undermine workforce standards
  13. Carry out a review of training and standards within slaughterhouses

    Labour says this would consider the overall management of a farm and the treatment of the individual animals. It says farmers need to feed the nation with high quality, affordable food produced to standards the public can trust.

  14. Appointment of an animal welfare commissioner

    Labour says this would ensure that government policy was continually informed and underpinned by the latest scientific evidence on animal sentience and best practice in animal welfare.

  15. Game birds

    Labour would implement an independent review into the economic, environmental and wildlife impacts of driven grouse shooting and model alternatives. It would also enact the previous Labour government’s proposed legislation on cage rearing of game birds.

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has welcomed some of the policy statements but is concerned that others could have a detrimental impact on wildlife management activities in the countryside.

A BASC spokesman said the proposed ban on the cage rearing of gamebirds appears to be based on a misunderstanding because no gamebirds are reared in cages. Cages are used by a minority of game farms for laying stock.

BASC plans to meet members of the Labour shadow environment team soon to seek clarification and make the argument for well-regulated shooting and wildlife management in detail.