National Sheep Association (NSA) demands clarity and progress on breeding animal exports in light of new legislation.

In response to the recent introduction of the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill, the NSA urges the Government to guarantee new legislation that bans the live export of livestock for slaughter, to ensure it does not further impact exporting breeding livestock to the EU.

NSA admits that they have been anticipating the ban of live exports for slaughter after the withdrawal of the Kept Animals Bill earlier in 2023.

READ MORE | Parliament proposes new legislation to ban live exports

However, whilst the exclusion of exporting stock for slaughter has been in effect since the UK's departure from the EU, British farmers have also faced challenges in exporting breeding stock. The absence of a live animal Border Control Post (BCP) at Calais, France has forced animal movements through longer routes via Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland.

NSA urges immediate action from the Government and Defra to provide solutions to the absence of a live animal facility across the shorter trade routes. Additionally, they seek clear communication acknowledging support for the export of live breeding animals and facilitating this trade.

NSA chief executive, Phil Stocker commented: “NSA has accepted that we will no longer see exports of live sheep for slaughter, even though we know a strong case could be made for this to be done in high welfare conditions and with journey times no longer than on British mainland. We have now had two years where no slaughter lambs have been exported live but the trade in carcasses and cuts has been strong – adding value here and arguably protecting our international reputation.”

READ MORE | Government ends live animal exports in King Charles speech

“However, we cannot allow this to continue to muddy the water relating to the export of animals destined for breeding and we are concerned that the current noise is doing nothing to build confidence in the investment in live animal facilities at Calais, or in negotiations over those live animal checks being done at new facilities in Great Britain. We have been in a situation for two years now where live breeding animals can enter the UK from the EU but very few are able to go out to meet the strong demand for our high-quality genetics from EU sheep farmers. We also need to prepare for significant potential interest from Ukraine when they start to rebuild their farming sectors and to not have infrastructure in place to support their efforts would be inexcusable.”

After the setback of the Kept Animals Bill, the Government unveiled additional alterations this year to microchipping, pet theft, farm animal welfare, and combating wildlife crime, outlined in the comprehensive Action Plan for Animal Welfare. Yet recent updates have left no suggestion to the concern of livestock worrying, which remains a significant issue.

Mr. Stocker summarised: "Following the abandonment of the Kept Animals Bill, the additional powers outlined for livestock worrying to give new powers to the police providing greater protection to livestock from dangerous and out of control dogs have also been left by the wayside. NSA has been committed, for a long time, to curbing the ever-increasing instances of dog attacks on sheep and would call for the Government to commit to action on this matter as soon as possible. If the Government is to claim some of the highest welfare standards for livestock, they must commit to making meaningful action in controlling attacks on these animals also.”