Post-Brexit Farming: interweaving animal welfare, the environment and public health – Peter Stevenson – Food Thinkers

Peter Stevenson on post-Brexit Farming: interweaving animal welfare, the environment and public health

Brexit offers opportunities to improve farm animal welfare. However, these could prove illusory if new trade deals fail to protect UK farmers from being undermined by lower welfare imports. Public funding for farming should be completely reconfigured. Its principal purpose should be to provide public goods that the market cannot – or can only partially – deliver such as high environmental and animal welfare standards.

Industrial livestock production is dependent on feeding human-edible cereals to animals who convert them very inefficiently into meat and milk. Industrial livestock’s huge demand for cereals has fueled the intensification of crop production which, with its monocultures and agro-chemicals, has led to soil degradation, water pollution and biodiversity loss. Reduced meat consumption would allow the emphasis to be placed on pasture-based husbandry and rotational integrated crop/livestock systems. These need much less grain than industrial livestock production; this would ease the pressure to farm arable land intensively so enabling natural resources to be restored. Reduced meat consumption would allow animals to be farmed extensively to high welfare standards with minimal use of antibiotics. It would also contribute to meeting the Paris climate targets. Reduced consumption of red and processed meat would lower the incidence of non-communicable diseases.

About the speaker

Peter Stevenson studied economics and law at Trinity College Cambridge. He is the Chief Policy Advisor of Compassion in World Farming.  In 2004 Peter was the joint recipient of the RSPCA Lord Erskine Award in recognition of a “very important contribution in the field of animal welfare”.

Peter leads Compassion in World Farming’s lobbying at the EU and the OIE. He played a leading role in winning the EU bans on veal crates, battery cages and sow stalls.In addition, he has written comprehensive legal analyses of EU legislation on farm animals and also of the impact of the WTO rules on animal welfare. Peter is lead author of the recent study by the FAO reviewing animal welfare legislation in the beef, pork and poultry industries and has written many well received literature reviews and reports on the welfare of chickens reared for meat and farmed fish, welfare at slaughter, welfare during transport and the economics of livestock production.

Peter also joined the FRC for a Food Bites to give us a snapshot snapshot of what the current issues in the food system are and what civil society organisations and academics could be doing to work towards solutions.

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