Improving UK trade deals with Europe will help livestock breeders

20 Jun 2024
Mark Wooding at the goat farm

Mark Wooding, Liberal Democrat candidate in Central Devon met with one of the UK's top breeders of goats.

"The bungling of trade deals with Europe has left this breeder in an impossible situation," said Mark. "She has very high welfare standards for her animals. Something that is common across our farming sector. So when she exports breeding stock she wants to know that her 'boys' and 'girls', as she calls them, will suffer the least amount of distress in getting to their new homes.

"Before the UK left the European Union the goats could be shipped via south coast ports which afforded the shortest possible journey time. That option is no longer available. The lack of French border facilities to check live animals now means the goats have to travel via Scotland, then to Northern Ireland, down through the Republic of Ireland before being put on to a ferry to France. Ireland is set up to do the animal checks, and of course as it is part of the European single market can send the animals onwards with no need for further checks in France.

"The problem is that with regulations on how long live animals can be in transit before being rested this adds 3 or 4 days to the journey. It clearly is not good for the animals' welfare no matter how carefully transport is organised. This breeder has decided she just can't subject her animals to this journey.

"These goats are a distinct animal line, much prized abroad. They fetch a good price and the breeder had traditional customers in Portugal, France and Croatia, and before all this happened was expanding. So the UK has lost out on these exports.

"We need urgent action to remedy this situation. That is why I am supporting the Liberal Democrat plan to strike better veterinary deals with our European neighbours. But short term DEFRA should be working harder with their French counterparts to get facilities set up for live-animal checking."

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