The UK Must Use Brexit to End Live Animal Exports

As theUK hammers out an exit deal from the European Union, it has the opportunity to end the needlessly cruel practice of live animal exports.

Live animal exports — fully conscious animalstransported across borders for slaughter –are subject to what should be strict laws in the EU. For example, unless the country of origin can guarantee that animals will be transported to a destination that adheres to EU welfare standards, thatexport — in theory, at least –may notproceed.

However, as undercover reports — like theAnimals International investigationreleased earlier this year — showed, once animals reach certain locations, like Turkey or other nations within the Middle East, they’re often subjected to horrific abuses. This mistreatment can range from slaughter in appalling conditions tohoistingfully consciousanimals bya singlelimb.

The dilemmastems from a lack of oversight at destination countries, in addition to the Harbours, Docks and Piers Clauses Act (1847)which means “goods” — in this case, animals — cannot be blocked from trade by the port authority, even if that authority believes that EU regulationsarebeing violated.

This mismatch between standards and enforcement has created uncertainty, and animals have been shipped out, despite serious concerns for their well-being.

To be clear, though,animal welfare advocatesdon’t just want to end the practice because of uncertain welfare conditions in destination countries.

The Reality of Live Export Conditions

In 2012, Compassion in World Farming followedthe export of calves from aUKport to Spain. The journey lasted 60 hours, and the video footage was shocking.

Live exports of young cows from the UK arelesscommon these days, but the industry still ships sheep and pigs. And these animals are subject to the same cramped conditions in hot trailers, characterized by malfunctioning water tanks and minimal ventilation.

Campaigners have pointed out that while these abuses, on the whole, are not allowed on British soil, they’re considered a necessary evil for trade.

Animal welfare activistshave long called for an end to live exports across borders and urged lawmakers to impose a maximum journey time of, at most, eight hours. They maintain that this legislationwould still allow for domestic trade across the country, whilemaintaining high animal welfare standards.

This policy change would alsoboost the UK’s commitment to a greener future. Live export ships produce massive amounts of animal waste, which is ultimatelypumped into our oceans.

And meanderingroutesoften emitadditional greenhouse gases. Compassion in World Farming notes:

In one incident, investigators witnessed a truck of bulls which set off from Latvia being delayed at the Turkish border for 6 days. The truck had already travelled for 2600km over 5 days. When they were eventually cleared to enter Turkey, they still had another 2000km to go….to Iraq!

It’sTime to Ditch Live Exports

When it comes to Brexit, progressivesraiseanumber of valid concerns. However, the UK government appears ready to take a lead for the better on animal welfare — and specifically, the issue of exports.

In a recent speech, theSecretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove stated:

Leaving the European Union gives us the chance to secure a special prize – a Green Brexit. Now, of course, there have been environmental rules which we helped develop while in the EU which are important and which we must keep – indeed – where possible – strengthen. …we can improve animal welfare, supporting more humane methods of farming and restricting the live export of animals.

But campaigners want to go one step furtherand ban live exports in favor of a “carcass only trade.” A petition on the UK government’s website urges for such a ban. Exceeding30,000 signatures,ithas prompted a response from the government.

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has said in part:

The Government believes animals should be slaughtered as close as practicable to their point of production. A trade in meat and meat products is preferable to the long distance transport of animals to slaughter. Once we leave the European Union, and in line with our manifesto commitment, we can take early steps to control the export of live farm animals for slaughter. We will be considering the options further in the context of our departure from the EU.

At 100,000 signatures, a petition on the official UK government website triggers parliamentary debate, where ministersmust hear the full breadth of concerns regarding live exports andarguments forending this practice.

To prevent untold animal suffering, UK residents must call for a ban on all live exports.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.


christine s
christine s3 days ago

End animal cruelty full stop.

Olivia H
Olivia Habout a month ago

Thank you

John W
John Wabout a month ago

As a supporter of Brexit, I hope the UK will be able to end this practice and other harmful EU practices.

One Heart i
One Heart inc1 months ago


Ingrid H
Ingrid H1 months ago

thanks for sharing

Kelsey S
Kelsey S1 months ago


Winn A
Winn A1 months ago


Leo C
Leo C1 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

Glennis W
Glennis W1 months ago

So cruel and wrong same is happening in Australia now they reckon there is a cattle shortage cruel bastards. Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis Whitney
Glennis W1 months ago

Deplorable sick mongerals Thank you for caring and sharing