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15 Jul 2022
BVA responds to ResPublica report on the impact of new trade deals on the UK's animal welfare standards.
Independent Think tank ResPublica’s has published a new report UK Trade Policy and Animal Welfare, outlining how new post-Brexit trade deals signed by the UK government to-date are setting a ‘concerning’ precedent that could see British farm produce undercut by imports from countries with lower animal welfare standards.
The report outlines how these deals are undermining the efforts of UK farmers and food producers to improve animal welfare in the agri-food sector, and make poor animal welfare practices carried out elsewhere yet more permissible, further entrenching unacceptable treatment of animals.
The report echoes the concerns BVA has been raising with government over the opening up of UK markets to global trading post-Brexit. New trade deals may provide opportunities for the UK economy, but these mustn’t be at the expense of the UK's high reputation for animal welfare. These high standards are a selling point for UK produce and mustn’t be undermined by allowing imports produced to lower standards.
In all trade agreements it negotiates, government must secure the inclusion of equally high standards of animal health, animal welfare, public health and food safety, and responsible antibiotic use. Government must establish a set of core standards and if potential trading partners are not able to demonstrate equivalence, they should not be considered for zero tariff, zero quota access.
It’s clear just how important future trade agreements are for animal welfare. It is therefore vital that government engages with the veterinary profession as it negotiates trade deals. The profession has a unique role to play in supporting the development of the UK’s trade policy, ensuring hard won standards of animal welfare are not overlooked in favour of a short-term economic gains.
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