Agriculture Bill

Written evidence submitted by The Humane League UK (AB43)


We are concerned that the Agriculture Bill, in its current form, poses severe risks to animal welfare standards. We support amendments to address this by prohibiting the import of animal products farmed in systems that would be illegal in this country.

About The Humane League UK

The Humane League UK is a registered charity which exists to end the abuse of animals raised for food. We focus on challenging the most intensive agricultural systems that cause suffering to the largest numbers of animals and we support the industry in moving towards higher-welfare practices.

Our concerns

1. The Agriculture Bill is an extremely important opportunity to safeguard animal welfare standards on British farms and in turn the farmers producing to those standards. The Humane League UK is concerned that at present the Bill does not prevent the risk of undercutting from imports with unacceptable animal welfare standards.

2. Consumers are increasingly demanding better animal welfare in animal agriculture. This has, and will continue to, present an opportunity for British farmers to supply produce that meets those expectations. However, the import of animal products that are farmed in ways that do not meet our own legal standards poses a serious risk to those British farmers working to improve animal welfare. Of course, it also endorses the use of extremely cruel production systems that cause terrible animal suffering often on a vast scale. The Humane League UK is concerned that the proposed Agriculture Bill poses serious risk to maintaining the standards the public expects for farmed animals as a result of British farmers being undercut by lower-welfare imports. 

3. It is essential that the Bill is amended to include detail on import standards. All animal products being imported into the UK should be required to meet minimum UK legal requirements on animal welfare. The import of any animal product produced in systems we have banned should be prohibited. Due to unclear labelling and consumers having little choice but to trust the major companies supplying much of our food it is often incredibly difficult for consumers to avoid products farmed using standards they do not support. Imports that offer even lower standards - standards illegal in this country - would exacerbate this issue further. 

4. The idea of permitting imports from farming systems that are considered to cause so much unnecessary suffering that they have been banned in this country, completely undermines efforts that have been made to improve animal welfare. It undermines the farmers working towards better standards, it undermines the trust of the public in our food system and it lets down the billions of animals living in the food system.

February 2020


Prepared 25th February 2020