‘FARMING has never faced such uncertainty’ says the Cumbrian advisor to the National Farmers Union as plans to ban exporting live animals for slaughter and fattening is put out for consultation by the Government.

Ministers said leaving the European Union allows the UK to enact rules which would prevent unnecessary suffering of animals during transport on excessively long journeys.

Proposals in the consultation also include reducing maximum journey times, giving animals more space and headroom during transport, and stricter rules on transporting livestock in extreme temperatures and by sea.

The former Conservative county councillor James Airey, who started his new role as the county’s advisor to the NFU recently, said: “It is important to stress that we are entering a consultation period and it is important that everyone puts their views forward.

“Transporting livestock is something done right across the world for breeding with the very best animals.

“So, this is done in a humane way and the animals are looked after to the best possible standard.

“This ban is more to do with animals going to slaughter though, and the more that happens (before being transported) the better.

“I hope it doesn’t impact on the industry as everything is so volatile at the moment with Brexit going on.

“The Government just need to take a breath and listen to what the farming community has to say.

“I have never seen agriculture facing so much uncertainty.

“We are greener than we have ever been, and when Covid appeared people realised how valuable farming is.”

The Mail: New job: James Airey starts work as new NFU Cumbria county adviserNew job: James Airey starts work as new NFU Cumbria county adviser

Mr Airey has said how his new role is going to be fascinating and he is very much looking forward to getting stuck into the job.

Officials said around 6,400 animals were transported from the UK directly to slaughter in continental Europe in 2018, a practice which could not be previously stopped under EU rules.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: "We are committed to improving the welfare of animals at all stages of life.

"Today marks a major step forward in delivering on our manifesto commitment to end live exports for slaughter.

"Now that we have left the EU, we have an opportunity to end this unnecessary practice.

"We want to ensure that animals are spared stress prior to slaughter."

The move has been welcomed by animal welfare groups, who said they had been campaigning on the issue for more than 50 years.

Chris Sherwood, the RSPCA's chief executive, said: "There is absolutely no reasonable justification to subject an animal to an unnecessarily stressful journey abroad simply for them to be fattened for slaughter.

"Ending live exports for slaughter and further fattening would be a landmark achievement for animal welfare."