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Humane and Sustainable Farming

March 31, 2015 4:47 PM

Liberal Democrats support a humane and sustainable farming system with high standards of animal welfare, and have strict laws in place to protect the wellbeing of farm animals.

Animal welfare is important and should not be compromised. Animals should not be kept in cramped confined conditions.

The EU introduced a ban on battery cages on 1st January 2012, which was fully supported by Liberal Democrats in Government. Hens should not be kept in such cramped conditions, and the Government has worked hard with farmers, retailers and the food service industry to discourage the use of battery-hens and protect UK consumers from purchasing battery-hen eggs unwittingly.

An EU ban on sow stalls has also been in force since January 2013. Although sow stalls have been illegal in the UK since 1999, they were not banned in all EU nations, and the UK Government successfully pressed the European Commission to ensure this ban is properly enforced in all EU member states. EU rules to improve welfare for animals at the time of slaughter have also been in force since January 2013, designed to prevent animals from experiencing unnecessary pain or suffering.

There are also significant animal welfare implications during the transport of live animals. Regulations are in place about maximum journey times, minimum rest periods, and access to food, water and adequate space. Individuals who are transporting live animals must be properly trained and authorised, and the vehicles used must be approved for long-distance journeys.

Liberal Democrats in Government have also worked hard to improve farm inspections. We have taken steps to ensure that they are better targeted at the farms that are most likely to have animal welfare problems. Farming needs to become more environmentally sustainable too and we also need to help farmers and consumers cut down on meat waste.

While progress is being made on improving animal welfare laws both domestically and throughout Europe, proper enforcement of these rules is also vital. Farm animals should have sufficient freedom to roam and explore their natural environment and we will continue to support a humane and sustainable farming system where animals are granted the space they need to enjoy a decent quality of life.