Joanna Lumley campaigns against live animal exports

12/01/2012

Recently, issues involving cutting pollution emissions and fuel consumption have been the main concern for the freight and logistics industry as operators have concentrated on making a better impression with consumers and customers over the past few years.

It is important for transport companies to demonstrate their ability to minimize damages to the environment but also to show that their service is not causing pain or suffering, whether it is to humans or animals.

A number of years ago the topic of live animal exports was popular and there were a number of mass demonstrations against the live export of domesticated animals being sent elsewhere for slaughter. After a number of ferry companies suspended the export of live animals the issue went away from common public attention.

Also, certain changes continue to be made with the intention of improving the lot of creatures kept to supply food. The EU alterations to the keeping of hens which come into force this year in which minimum sizes for cages were made mandatory are a touchy subject for British farmers, all of whom have had to invest in new equipment to ensure they meet the new standards or be harshly prosecuted by the authorities whilst many other member countries have simply not enforced the regulations.

However, the issue has risen again after Ms Joanna Lumley OBE, a formidable force for animal welfare, joined the Compassion in World Farming campaign. She is pressing for a minimising of miles covered and higher transport costs imposed at the port of Ramsgate, the only British ferry port which still handles live exports.

Ms Lumley said,

“The numbers involved in live exports is shocking. We need to act on this ghastly trade now. 2012 is an auspicious year. This is the year for change! We ask farmers to please find alternatives and we need to make it more lucrative for them to slaughter their animals closer to home. Ask your MEP to enforce an 8 hour limit and stop and think about your food and where it comes from. I urge you all to take more responsibility.”

Joanna Lumley has had past success with high profile campaigns. She embarrassed the then Labour Government into a U turn over the settlement of Gurkhas in the UK with a successful crusade, and put then Prime Minister Gordon Brown into an impossible position after he promised the ex British soldiers would be offered fair rights of residence only for some then to immediately be refused entry rights, with her public humiliation of MP Philip Woolas who is currently banned from standing for office due to election fiddling.

Road haulage operators regularly travel great distances in the UK to have animals slaughtered because past Governments have supported the drive for bigger centralised slaughterhouses. The standards imposed may be more manageable but it has meant the closure of many local businesses where the killing could take place close to the animal’s original home and therefore causing far less stress to the animals.

Live exports from the UK have, according to published figures, risen by 300% in the past year with little or no accountability of what happens to the creatures following their shipment. Around 12% are calves destined generally for the veal trade with the bulk of the others being sheep plus some pigs and goats.

Given Ms Lumley’s past success, it seems likely we will be hearing a lot more on this issue in the media and from politicians. Supermarkets are also likely to promote their ‘local produce’. For road hauliers and farmers, minimising journeys, and therefore stress and costs, will be issues to consider.