Philip Lymbery | Compassion’s Agenda for the New British Prime Minister
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Compassion’s Agenda for the New British Prime Minister

Credit: Press Association

Compassion is entirely neutral politically: our agenda is simply to get the very best outcomes for farm animals, regardless of who is in power. But the arrival of a new Prime Minister is an excellent moment to take stock, especially at this time of extraordinary political turbulence. What is our message for Boris Johnson? What can we realistically ask him to do?

This is what we’re writing to him today.

Dear Mr Johnson,

Congratulations on your appointment as Prime Minister. We recognise that you are taking over the leadership at a time of exceptional challenge and difficulty and we hope that the outcome of your efforts leads to better lives for us all – people and animals alike.

We should like to highlight four key points which link with your efforts to bring the Brexit issue to a satisfactory conclusion.

UK Calves in transit for export

First of all, we welcome your longstanding commitment to ending live exports. As you have recognised, the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening causes immense suffering for little economic benefit, with most of the journey and all of the subsequent handling and slaughter entirely outside the scope of British monitoring and control. Under EU rules, successive governments have
argued that it has not been possible to end the trade. After Brexit, this excuse should no longer apply. Please ensure that whatever agreement is reached with the EU, it does not prevent you from implementing the ban, and introduce it as one of the first benefits of post-Brexit life.

Second, in the subsequent trade negotiations, please stand firm for the best of the British farming industry in opposing an opening of the British market to low-quality, low-welfare imports. These would undercut British farmers and destroy much of the industry, as well as the hard-won reputation of Britain as a market where quality and welfare are valued by consumers. Britain’s farmers cannot win a race to the bottom, but they can win a race to be the best in the world.

Sow in farrowing crate

Third, please develop the “public money for public goods” agenda introduced by Michael Gove in Defra, and ensure that a significant proportion of the new initiatives funded under this approach benefit British farmers moving up the welfare scale – for example, replacing the archaic systems of hen cages and farrowing crates with modern free-range facilities.

Fourth, please deliver the promised “gold standardlabelling of meat and dairy goods, so that consumers can make informed choices in what they buy and contribute to rewarding high-welfare farmers.

More broadly, please support a fundamental review of Britain’s food and farming system, as recommended by the RSA and EAT-Lancet reports. We have had years of reports urging a more sustainable approach to British agriculture. We hope that your Government will take action to turn the recommendations into Britain’s long-term reality.

We wish you every success in including these objectives as part of your agenda for the challenging days ahead.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Lymbery