The RSPCA is urging the governments in England and Wales to look at incentives to support Britain’s sheep industry and to back 100% checks at ports.

Two months ago a company called Channel Livestock was convicted for animal welfare offences after they failed to safeguard the welfare of hundreds of sheep. The case resulted in the deaths of more than 40 sheep at the Port of Ramsgate in 2012 – highlighting the risks involved in the live export trade and the need to only trade in meat.

David Bowles, head of public affairs for the RSPCA, said: The governments have repeatedly said they are in favour of a carcase trade – now is their chance to fund incentives to market English and Welsh lamb and maintain jobs in the livestock sector in a move that would improve the welfare of thousands of farm animals.”

“The court case also clearly showed the serious failings in the trade of live farm animals and the need for 100% checks at port,” he added.

“The Government has always maintained a position of preferring a trade in meat to one in live animals. It also believes slaughter and subsequent processing should be as close to the place of production as possible.”

With decisions due on funding under the rural development plans in England and Wales, and the general reduction in imports of sheep meat, the RSPCA believes there is a real opportunity to grow the British market in sheep and lamb and reduce the export of live sheep.

“The calf industry provides us with a perfect example of how the market can be developed in Britain to support the farming industry and animal welfare. The RSPCA is calling on the governments in England and Wales to play their part in fulfilling their promise to have a carcase-only trade.”

The RSPCA has written to George Eustice, the Defra minister responsible for animal welfare, and Anne McIntosh, chairman of The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, calling for urgent action to be taken to safeguard the welfare of thousands of farm animals involved in live exports and a Government inquiry into the trade.

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