AIMS speaks out on U-turn

Defra’s decision to backtrack on its decision to repeal animal welfare guidance has been slammed by the Association of Meat Suppliers (AIMS). 

Earlier this month, Defra announced it was repealing animal welfare guidance as part of a move towards a more industry-led programme. Starting with the British Poultry Council, who would publish guidance for the sector at the end of this month, the Pig Health and Welfare Council was to follow next, with other sectors also in talks. Legislation was not going to change, rather just the non-statutory guidance on welfare. When initially announced, the proposed new guidance was designed to be used as “evidence in court to prove criminal liability and will ensure farmers have the most up-to-date and practical information”.

However, following the announcement of the repeal, Defra came under fire from lobby groups who disagreed with the decision, and it changed its mind on industry-led guidance.
In a statement, it said: “In light of views raised, we have given the matter further consideration and believe we can achieve this objective by retaining the existing statutory codes. The work of the farming industry has been invaluable and we will continue to work with them to ensure our guidance is updated to best help them to comply with our high welfare standards.”

An Association of Independent Meat Suppliers spokesman said: “For a government department that has a responsibility to protect and promote the British farming industry, any suggestion that it may have backed down after pressure from a vegan lobbying group on this matter is beyond belief. We have already seen Defra’s behaviour in the way it attempts to micro manage AHDB (which is solely in business to protect British farmers interests). You have to wonder where their real priorities lie.

“If, on the other hand, it has backed down as part of a ministerial policy of appeasement, it goes to show the distinctly poor advice Defra is now receiving internally. This follows the catastrophic handling by
Defra of the WATOK regulations and calls into question whether Defra any longer has the competence to administer anything connected with animal welfare.”

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