‘A Ban In All But Name’ – Shipping Calves for Slaughter to Europe

Dairy Livestock Holstein Bovine CalfMark Ruskell MSP, Scottish Greens, has welcomed the news that P&O Ferries will no longer transport young calves to Europe for slaughter. It followed revelations about the trade in a BBC documentary “Disclosure: The Dark Side of Dairy”. About 5,000 calves last year were shipped from Scotland to Northern Ireland and onward to Spain.

Mark Ruskell said:

“Today’s announcement amounts to a ban in all but name – P&O were the only company shipping live animals for fattening and slaughter, and they only did this on the Cairnryan to Larne route, upholding their own animal welfare policies elsewhere.”

Mark Ruskell and SNP MSP Christine Grahame have persistently raised the issue in the Scottish Parliament of the live transportation of livestock .

Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy in the Scottish Government responding to a letter from Mark Ruskell said in March of this year:

“For clarification, there are currently no animals exported to other EU states for the purposes of slaughter, with the exception of animals transported to Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland.”

On the 27th of March 2018 Christine Grahame asked how many cattle,  sheep, pigs and goats that were exported in 2017 were for  slaughter, breeding and fattening/production – and who went onward to Northern Ireland,the Republic of Ireland, France, Belgium, Spain,  Italy,Germany and the Netherlands as their final destination.

Fergus Ewing provided the following tables for 2017 on the 1st of May 2018:

animals transported for slaughter 1animals transported for slaughter 2animals transported for slaughter 3animals transported for slaughter 4

On the 24th of April, 2018, Christine Grahame  lodged this question in the Scottish Parliament: “To ask the Scottish Government whether it will ban the export of live animals for slaughter. “

Answered by Fergus Ewing (03/05/2018):

Fergus Ewing“As I stated in the response to your oral question of 6 February 2018 there is currently no export of live animals to continental Europe for the purpose of slaughter from Scotland. And as I have also made clear previously, the Scottish Government is committed to the welfare of all animals during transport, whether within the United Kingdom or for export purposes. Animals should be exported only in line with strict welfare standards, which ensure freedom from harm and sufficient rest and nourishment.

“The UK Government has issued a call for evidence on this issue and we have supported that call but reiterated and reserved our position of not making any changes to current EU legislation that could disadvantage Scottish agriculture.”

Mark Ruskell obtained Scottish Government figures confirming that “In 2017, over 6,000 cattle and 3,000 sheep were sent to countries outside of the UK for either slaughter or production.”

Mark Ruskell said:

“The continued export of live animals in Scotland is a cruel and unnecessary by product of an industry in crisis. There is simply no room for such cruelty in a modern Scotland, and the SNP Government needs to wake up and listen to the 73% of voters who recently said they supported a ban on the trade.

“Rather than an existential crisis, a live exports ban, combined with financial support for those transitioning to sustainable calf-at-hoof dairying, could be the catalyst we need to revitalise the dairy industry and lead the way towards a farming system fit for the future.”

Greens win on live export ban

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

4 replies »

  1. I saw a report on this, in which a representative of ‘the industry’ said that a ban was ridiculous, as the only alternative would be to shoot the calves at birth. I’m not sure if this is correct but, even if it is, that would still be kinder than what can happen to them when transported long distances, sometimes to places which don’t have the welfare standards on slaughter that Britain has.
    If slaughter has to happen – which it does – being realistic – folk will eat meat – then, as near as possible to source, and as humanely as possible.


  2. PS A bit of a witter –
    The ‘excess’ calves, are the males which are not wanted by the dairy industry.
    The supermarkets push for cheaper and cheaper milk.
    If consumers don’t question the source and implications of what they consume, and/or the attitudes and behaviour of the supermarkets – this kind of situation, will arise.

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