Category Archives: EU Sub-Committee D

Making Brexit work for animal welfare

Lord Trees spoke on 17 October in the House of Lords in a debate on the EU subcommittee reports on Brexit: agriculture and Brexit: farm animal welfare with Defra Minister Lord Gardiner.

AJT Brexit animal welfare debate

He took the opportunity to ask the Minister for further clarity on the rights of non-UK EU vets to continue to work in the UK post Brexit, he emphasised the role of vets in underpinning trade, sought assurances that animal welfare standards would not slip as a consequence of setting up new trading relationships and also spoke on the need to transpose medicines regulations into UK law to ensure that current and future medicines required for animal health are available. More generally he also asked the Minister if the Government have considered how financial inducements might be used to help to maintain animal welfare standards (e.g. during reform of farming subsidy payments) and to ensure that the EU Withdrawal Bill includes General Principles of EU law such as the Lisbon Treaty (Article 13) which requires the sentience of animals to be recognised in making and interpreting current and future laws.

Defra Minister, Lord Gardiner’s reply stated:

Lord Gardiner

“In government we absolutely recognise the key role played by vets in ensuring high animal welfare and health standards. Indeed, the Prime Minister specifically made it clear that securing the status of the veterinary workforce is a top priority. It has been my privilege to meet many EU nationals who serve in our veterinary profession and I can say how important they are to us.”

He mentioned welfare standards several times, re-iterating the Government’s position that the UK’s current standards of animal welfare will be maintained post Brexit. He also stated that the Government plans “to replicate broadly the EU’s current schedule of WTO commitments” in its future trade agreements allowing tariffs to be maintained at current level but acknowledging that decreases in tariffs can adversely impact farmers, consumers and the food industry.

In response to concerns about the negative impact of cuts in Defra funding and reduction in the Defra workforce he stated that Defra have recruited 450 additional staff, comprising policy generalists and specialists to support their comprehensive exit programme. More than 350 have already taken up posts, with the remainder currently progressing through the pre-appointment processes.

He confirmed The Secretary of State (Michael Gove’s) recent announcement that the Government intends to publish draft legislation for consultation “around the turn of the year” to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty offences from six months to five years in prison.

He also referred to the Government’s manifesto commitment to “take early steps to control the export of live farm animals for slaughter” as we leave the EU as well as to require CCTV in every slaughterhouse in England.

A full transcript of the debate is available here.

Advertisements

Lord Trees visits Hampshire farms with EU committee

Last week Lord Trees visited Kingsclere Estate, Manydown Farm, and Vitacress Salads Ltd  alongside other members of the House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee. 

For the last two years Lord Trees has been a committee member of the House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee that meets weekly to scrutinize legislative proposals from the EU commission. Fluctuations in the market prices for agricultural products (price volatility) poses a major threat to the financial security of farmers and to the sustainability of food supply in the EU. In response, the committee is currently working on an inquiry into creating a more resilient agricultural sector. The final report from the inquiry is due to be published in early May 2016.

The chairman of the committee,  Baroness Scott of Needham Market, said:

“Our visit to the Hampshire really brought our current inquiry to life. It was an honour to hear from farmers who have had to weather the storm of price volatility in recent months and years. What was clear from our conversations was that price volatility is here to stay and that the true potential of much of UK agriculture depends on farmers’ ability to innovate and diversify. We were impressed with the vision and the confidence of the people we met and we were grateful for the time that they took to share their thoughts with us as we begin to prepare our final report.”

Pictures:
Left: Lord Trees (centre) with Baroness Scott of Needham Market, the chairman of the Sub-Committee (second left) discussing soil structure at Kingsclere Estate.
Right: Lord Trees observing salad processing at Vitacress Salads Ltd.

Committee Business: Billingsgate Fish Market

EU Sub Committee for Environment and Energy visits the Billingsgate Fish Market

Billingsgate (135)Members of the EU Sub-Committee for Environment and Energy were invited to attend Billingsgate Fish Market in east London on the morning of Tuesday 21 July.

Billingsgate (117)The visit, which started at the crack of dawn, was organised so that Sub -Committee members could see the market in action. It also provided the opportunity for discussion about the impact of EU fisheries policy on the UK fishing industry and the food supply chain that follows. The visit concluded with a Dover sole breakfast.

Billingsgate (113)

Waste not, want not?

Question for Short Debate: Food Waste

On Thursday 6th November, Baroness Scott, Chairperson of the House of Lords EU Sub-Committee for Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment and Energy, asked the Government  what is their response to the Report of the European Union Committee on Counting the Cost of Food Waste: EU Food Waste Prevention.

Lord Trees joined this EU Sub-Committee late in the last session and is the only veterinarian sitting on the committee. In his speech he praised the report as valuable and timely and championed the idea of effective menu-planning as a strategy for individuals to reduce their food waste. He concluded by asking the Minister what other measures by way of public information, education and encouragement the Government have in progress to promote menu planning in our society.

Lord De Mauley responded to Lord Trees as follows:

“The noble Lord, Lord Trees, asked about publicising Love Food Hate Waste. Information on choosing, cooking and eating a healthy diet is provided via NHS Choices, including the Change4Life social marketing campaign and guidance on healthier and more sustainable catering. The “eatwell plate” displays the proportions and types of foods that should be eaten as part of a healthy lifestyle. The Government’s Change4Life programme provides tools and resources that incentivise and encourage behaviour change; for example, the Meal Mixer app has been downloaded more than 1 million times and contains hundreds of quick, healthy and affordable family recipes.”

– HOL Hansard, 6 Nov 2014 : Columns 1849-1850

In his conclusion Lord De Mauley said:

“The committee’s report included a recommendation on the need to work with WRAP to deliver a whole-supply-chain approach. I agree that there is a need for policy and action to evolve to tackle food waste across the whole value chain and I recognise the close relationship between food waste, food security and sustainability. That is why we have been working closely with WRAP in its development of proposals for an initiative that looks at how the food we produce and eat can be more sustainable and secure and where waste can be further reduced. This is more than a mere successor to Courtauld 3 but it will continue and expand that work, and put the onus on industry to take greater ownership. This project should influence global supply chains and could therefore have an impact in the EU and beyond.”

– HOL Hansard, 6 Nov 2014 : Column 1850