Farm animal welfare code change proposals scrapped

Controversial plans to change farm animal welfare codes have been scrapped by the Government.

The Government had planned to replace statutory welfare codes with industry-led guidelines.

Charities including Peta, the Humane Society International and Compassion in World Farming wrote to the Government to oppose the plans.

Allowing the industry to "self-regulate" would risk lowering current standards because farmers would no longer be required to abide by the codes, they argued.

Opponents to the plans said the move would also potentially increase the risk of diseases and further overuse of antibiotics.

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs said the current system would remain in place.

A Defra spokesman said: "We have the highest standards of animal welfare in the world, and no changes have been proposed to the legislation upholding them. We want to draw more closely on the expertise of the farming industry to ensure our welfare codes reflect the very latest scientific and veterinary developments.

"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."

The British Poultry Council (BPC) was involved in the Government's consultation and said it was disappointed by the U-turn as livestock farmers would be left with "outdated welfare guidance".

BPC Chairman John Reed said: "By revoking its decision, Defra is walking away from an opportunity to ensure welfare guidance is kept up-to-date with the latest research using industry expertise."

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