The Ulster Farmers’ Union has criticised a pledge from the Conservative Party to halt live animal exports following Brexit over animal welfare concerns.
The Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay has pledged that his party would put a stop to the practice “once we leave the European Union”, while the Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers spoke against live exports at the Conservative Party conference last month.
But the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) said it is wrong to link live exports with animal cruelty and highlighted their importance to the local economy.
UFU deputy president David Brown said: “Live exports are an integral part of Northern Ireland’s livestock sector and any additional controls or changes to regulations, post-Brexit, are unnecessary.
“More than 500,000 sheep per annum cross the Irish border for processing in the Republic of Ireland and it is crucial that this trade can continue without any friction.”
Mr Brown continued: “Government officials are making these claims, but I would question if they really understand how our livestock industry operates in the UK.”
He added: “Transporting livestock is not a welfare issue.”
The UFU and the National Sheep Association have written a joint letter to Theresa Villiers to highlight their concerns.