Although food choices can have an impact on greenhouse gas emissions, well managed livestock can provide environmental benefits including supporting biodiversity, protecting the character and identity of the countryside and generating an important income for rural communities.
As a farmer who grew up on my Mother’s dairy farm, I am proud that the UK has some of the highest standards of animal welfare in the world. There is comprehensive legislation to uphold these standards, as well as guidance on how best to protect the welfare of specific animals living on farms, such as hens, pigs and cattle. The Government has already banned cages or close confinement systems where there is clear scientific evidence that they are detrimental to animal health and welfare.
Regarding exports, although much of the discussion has focused on the export of live animals for slaughter, I am assured that all options for future improvements in this area are being considered. I hope those supporting a ban on the export of animals for fattening took the opportunity to respond to the call for evidence and make their views heard.
Antibiotic resistance is the biggest threat to modern medicine and we must act now to help keep antibiotics effective for future generations. Responsible use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine, working closely with the farming industry and the veterinary profession, has long been promoted. In January, the Government launched a 5-year action plan and a 20-year vision for how the UK will contribute to containing and controlling antimicrobial resistance by 2040. I am glad that UK sales in antibiotics for food producing animals has been reduced by 40 per cent over the past 5 years. We should commend our farmers and vets for setting an excellent example for others around the world to follow.