Despite my good intentions for planning ahead, I expect you'll see me doing last minute shopping in the last few days before Christmas. Like many people, I like to buy as much as I can for my family from local producers and thoroughly appreciate the huge increase in the range and quality of food and drink produced in Cornwall. A third of jobs in Cornwall are related to food and drink. The seasonal food festivals, markets and recent Truro Fatstock Show do a great job of connecting local people with our local farmers and food producers. This is important not only for the local economy but to remind us this important part of Cornwall's life.
While perhaps better known for our fruit and vegetable farming, seeing the lovingly cared for beasts at the Fatstock Show also reminds us of the very high standards of animal welfare and husbandry we are rightly proud of in our country. Standards that if necessary are enforced. When I learned from my colleague the MP for South Thanet of the horrors of live animal exports from UK ports, I was determined to bring this iniquitous trade to the Government’s attention.
Under current EU regulations living animals can be exported from their country of origin to slaughter in another EU country. Such journeys cause terrible distress to the animals involved. Loaded into confined and poorly ventilated spaces, jolted during long hours of travel and often transferred to unsafe holding pens at ports, animals are put under immense stress and sometimes die en-route.
Last week I presented a petition signed by over five hundred Truro and Falmouth residents to Parliament calling on the House of Commons to ban live animal exports.
I am pleased by the Government’s robust response to my petition and the subsequent debate held on this issue. The Farming Minister has promised to review the regulations governing live animal exports from UK ports, and has stated the Government’s commitment to ensuring that animals are slaughtered as near as possible to their point of origin.
This commitment is crucial if we are to make real progress in securing better welfare for all farm animals. We can all play our part in supporting local producers. In Cornwall we have farmers who produce top-quality meat and care passionately about the welfare of their animals. By buying local meat we support these farmers and their welfare first approach, help the local economy, and ensure that animals going to slaughter are not subject to long and stressful journeys.
I am grateful to all the Truro and Falmouth residents who took the time to circulate and complete my petition to ban live animal exports, I will continue to pursue this and other animal welfare issues in Parliament. Defending and extending the UK’s high standards of animal welfare is an important part of my work as an MP.
Finally, I would like to thank all those constituents who have contacted me over the past year, and wish you a Happy Christmas and a Healthy and Happy 2013.