Welsh Government “will not compromise” animal welfare ahead of Brexit

(Title Image: ITV)

Yesterday afternoon, the Energy, Planning & Rural Affairs Secretary, Lesley Griffiths (Lab, Wrexham) updated the Senedd on the Welsh Government’s work on animal welfare, as well as outlining policy priorities for the coming months.

“Animal welfare remains high on my agenda as we move through this time of change and uncertainty. It is vital we maintain our standards and expectations, particularly considering the pressures faced as we leave the EU. I’m very clear: the Welsh Government will not compromise on animal welfare. I’m determined we will continue to lead the way in raising standards, both now and after we leave the EU.”
– Energy, Planning & Rural Affairs Secretary, Lesley Griffiths

Some of those policy priorities include:

  • Helping the farming sector build its resilience to fluctuating and extreme weather events after this summer’s heatwave, including a £500,000 contribution to farming charities.
  • Further discussions on whether the RSPCA will receive statutory/law enforcement powers.
  • Work to reduce the number of livestock attacks.
  • Continuing a grant programme to install CCTV in slaughterhouses, with legislation making it mandatory to be kept on the table.
  • 100% of eggs produced in Wales to be free range (it’s currently 90%).
  • Launching a consultation on introducing “Lucy’s Law” – which will ban third-party sales of puppies and kittens.

A huge responsibility

Shadow Rural Affairs Minister, Andrew RT Davies AM (Con, South Wales Central) focused on the Lucy’s Law proposal. He said it was a “huge responsibility” for anyone to own an animal; he’s been out with the RSPCA and seen first hand the ignorance some animal owners display as to what they have to do.

He also called for the Welsh Government to consider using its food labelling powers to inform consumers about the welfare of animals processed for food. The Secretary said that discussions with UK DEFRA were ongoing as to how food labelling will work after Brexit.

Llyr Gruffydd AM (Plaid, North Wales) picked up on the charity donation and what it says about the current state of Welsh farming:

“For the Welsh Government to endorse, through its contribution, the fact that farmers are really dependent on charity now says a lot, I think, about where we are, or where the farming sector is, or where it finds itself under your watch at the moment, and I think that’s quite an issue of regret for me, that you feel that you have to do that.”
– Llyr Gruffydd AM

He wanted to see greater action from the government than charity donations. However, he was supportive of putting the RSPCA on a statutory basis and called for meat from animals which haven’t been stunned before slaughter to be properly labelled.

Dangerous dogs & badger cull

Julie Morgan AM (Lab, Cardiff North) called for more to be done to protect postal workers from dog attacks following new figures from the Communication Workers Union (CWU):

“But, he (David Joyce, CWU) has drawn our attention to the fact that the number of attacks are, actually, increasing in Wales, and a total of 167 postal workers were the victims of aggression from dogs in 2017/18, and this is a rise of 22 per cent.”
– Julie Morgan AM

The Secretary said some elements of the laws on dangerous dogs are non-devolved and work was continuing with the UK Government to address any deficiencies in current laws.

Caroline Jones AM (Ind, South Wales West) asked if the Welsh Government had any plans to abandon badger culling after evidence in England found it was ineffective? The Secretary has already ruled-out and English-style mass cull and an update on the Welsh TB eradication programme is due next April.

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