The Scottish Government has finally bowed to pressure from Compassion in World Farming and stopped live calf exports – now it’s time for a full UK live exports ban.
After decades of campaigning, we have a real breakthrough against live exports – and it’s in Scotland. Following a lengthy legal battle with Compassion in World Farming, the Scottish Government has finally stopped live calf exports.
Compassion strongly opposes all live exports for both fattening and slaughter. The transport of live unweaned animals all the way from Scotland to Spain and beyond was especially cruel and poorly-regulated.
Up to now, the Scottish and UK Governments have continued to approve these exports from Scotland via Ramsgate, so Compassion launched Judicial Review proceedings against the trade in February.
For over 6 months, both Governments resisted Compassion’s case that exporting unweaned calves on long journeys without nutrition is illegal. Finally, on August 21 2020, the Scottish Government accepted that the trade in unweaned calves was being conducted against the intention of the law (on the basis of maximum journey times) and instructed the Animal Plant and Health Agency (APHA) to refuse all further applications for unweaned calf exports that breach these rules – effectively halting the current trade.
This is a huge success. But it leaves the issue finely balanced, and we can’t stop there. If the exporters change their journey patterns, allowing the calves a longer pause on the way, the authorities might allow the trade to resume. What’s needed is a complete ban on all live exports for slaughter and fattening.
The Scottish Government has said it will be consulting on introducing the regulations proposed by the Farm Animal Welfare Commission, which include a 9-hour limit on travel – far too short to allow cost-effective exports to Spain. This should follow now – without using the elections as an excuse for yet another delay – and we will be working with OneKind to press for this to be nailed down in statute.
And there’s more. When campaigning for Brexit, Boris Johnson and other UK Ministers stated that once we left the EU, it would be possible to halt live exports from anywhere in the UK. As the final stage of Brexit approaches on January 1, this is still just talk – but they too have promised a consultation on action before the end of the year.
More consultations and empty promises simply aren’t good enough: we need action. So, Compassion will be campaigning hard across the UK to get this over the line into legislation to protect animals from this cruel and unnecessary practice once and for all.
Blog by Dr Nick Palmer, Head of Compassion in World Farming UK.