Once again, 2021 was full of challenges but despite the pandemic and restrictions we still managed to get a lot done! Here is a brief overview of our work over the year.
Formal Complaints to Minister McConalogue and the EU Commission
Numerous formal complaints were sent to the Minister and the EU Commission throughout the year in relation to calf export and sea journeys outside the EU, including the below. Every complaint has received the same generic copy and paste response that does not address any of the issues raised.
3rd January – a formal letter of complaint was submitted to the Minister regarding two shipments that left Ireland for Libya and Turkey in December 2020, soon hitting stormy seas with gale force winds of 8 and above which is in breach of the Carriage of Livestock by Sea SI 2016 that states vessels should depart when winds of gale force 6 or above are predicted – the captain of the vessel must obtain a 96 hour weather forecast before departure so was aware of the pending storm.
27th January – a formal letter of complaint was submitted to the Minister jointly with Compassion in World Farming, Animals International and Eyes on Animals regarding live export outside the EU and the horrific slaughter the animals are subjected to. Video evidence was provided showing Irish cattle at an inhumane slaughterhouse in Lebanon. Several letters have already been sent concerning the appalling slaughter methods practiced in third countries but the matter is continuously ignored. You can read more about the Minister’s response here: https://www.ethicalfarmingireland.com/2021/08/16/minister-continuously-ignores-concerns-over-brutal-slaughter-in-third-countries/
30th January – a formal letter of complaint was submitted to Minister Poots in Northern Ireland, jointly with Compassion in World Farming and Eyes on Animals, regarding the illegal export of calves from Northern Ireland to mainland Europe, as calves are not being fed within the required timeframe.
3rd March – a formal letter of complaint was submitted to the EU Commission jointly with Compassion in World Farming and Eyes on Animals regarding the illegal export of calves from Northern Ireland to mainland Europe.
29th March – a formal complaint was submitted to the EU Commission in relation to the illegal export of calves from Ireland to mainland Europe as calves are not being fed. The initial response (received in August) stated that nothing could be done as no evidence was provided that calves are not being fed during the 24 – 30 hour journey. A follow up letter was sent with as much evidence as could be gathered and finally in December a response was received stating the complaint is still being reviewed….
26th April – a formal complaint was sent to the Minister in relation to a shipment to Libya that once again hit stormy seas, breaching the Carriage of Livestock by Sea SI 2016. Furthermore, rough treatment of cattle was observed at the loading including the bending back of tails (which can damage the spine) and hitting around the head area with paddles.
20th May – a formal complaint regarding the invalid certification of livestock vessel Finola M was submitted due to foot battens on the ramps not being compliant with measurements set out in the Carriage of Livestock by Sea SI 2016, increasing the risk of slippage and injury when walking up the ramps. The certificate was also granted before the final inspection of the vessel took place which is extremely poor practice.
6th December – complaint sent to Minister as livestock vessel Finola M hit a horrific storm just before reaching Libya with gale force 9 winds and waves exceeding 20 feet. The animals and crew must have suffered appallingly.
Live export billboard campaign
A Go Fund Me that ran at the end of 2020 secured enough funds for a billboard campaign that was launched with the first billboard going up in Dublin on 24th January. There were two designs to raise awareness of both calf export and the sea journeys outside the EU. A total of 14 billboards went up in Limerick, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Westmeath, Mayo and Louth. They ran for nearly two months but one of the billboards in Cork was vandalised with a few days of going up. This actually worked in our favour as it was reported in the Examiner: https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/munster/arid-40222868.html
Animal welfare strategy
A new animal welfare strategy was launched by the Minister on 1st February amongst much fanfare. However, whilst on one hand animals are recognised as being sentient there was little substance around improvements for farm animals and no change around live export. RTE covered the launch and briefly mentioned calf export on Morning Ireland and the one o’clock news: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=171963524703794
ANIT committee hearing
An ANIT committee of inquiry into live export was conducted during 2021 in European Parliament to test the fitness for purpose of EU Regulation 1/2005 on the protection of animals during long distance transport, to look into enforcement and where the gaps are, and also where changes and improvements need to be made. Caroline Rowley, director of EFI, was invited to speak as an expert witness on 17th March where some of the rather dubious claims made previously by a senior official from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and by Wicklow Calf Company were challenged. You can read more about it here: https://www.ethicalfarmingireland.com/2021/03/24/efi-invited-to-speak-at-european-anit-committee-meeting-on-long-distance-transport/
The inquiry has now been completed and in December the committee members voted in favour of a number of recommendations, including a total ban on the export of all unweaned animals under the age of two months and a restriction to two hours travel for unweaned animals. If this is passed by the European Parliament it will effectively mean the end of calf export from Ireland, a huge win!
Live export lobbying campaign
In April a lobbying campaign was organised with NGO Animals Behind Closed Doors. This involved recruiting supporters to contact their local TDs by phone to discuss the issues around the live export industry and ask them to contact the Minister about it. All phone calls were followed up with an email. The campaign garnered a fair bit of support with around 20 people taking part.
Animal Rebellion Talks for a Compassionate Future
Caroline Rowley was invited to speak on live export by Animal Rebellion Ireland on 11th May where a presentation was given – Live Export Ireland Facts versus Fiction. You can view the presentation here, which gives a good overview of the trade and why it is inhumane and unnecessary. https://bit.ly/3JTBZWG
In May 10,000 leaflets were delivered to households in Wexford in relation to calf export and a further 10,000 were delivered to households in Cork in July in relation to sea journeys to raise public awareness, as the public generally do not know what is going on under their noses.
End the Cage Age European Citizens Initiative
After a year of collecting signatures around Europe, 1.4 million citizens added their name to the initiative calling for a total ban on all cages in farming. In June a vote was held in EU Parliament and MEPs voted unanimously in favour of the ban. This is a huge win for farm animals! Legislation is yet to be compiled and it will take some years to implement the ban but it means no more hens in cages, no more sows in farrowing crates, no more calves in cages on veal farms, no more quail, ducks or rabbits crammed in cages. It’s a massive step forward and all of you who signed and shared the petition should feel very proud! The campaign was initially started by Compassion in World Farming and EFI was involved from the start. A joint letter was sent to Minister McConalogue on 7th July with CIWF and the ISPCA, asking him to support a full ban on cages.
Live Export International Awareness Day
This was again held on 14th June and the event was virtual due to covid restrictions. Many supporters joined the event, sending in videos holding up placards which were compiled into one video, along with footage of livestock trucks and shipments, that can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDMRMUBHI1c
We also had an information video put together that was released on the day that can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxjCTRHGTPU&t=26s
EFI started a Go Fund Me in August for a pig campaign called Pig Aware Ireland. It is a collaboration between Ethical Farming Ireland and My Lovely Pig Rescue, created to highlight the plight of pigs in Ireland, to lobby government into enforcing legislation and supporting farmers to transition to higher welfare systems. We will have almost enough funds for the billboard campaign which will hopefully be up soon. You can read more about the campaign here: https://www.ethicalfarmingireland.com/pig-aware-ireland/
A petition was also started calling on the Minister to actually enforce the Pig Directive on the docking of tails and provision of proper enrichment. https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/enforce-the-ec-pig-directive-2008-120-and-more
Live Export Protest
Following the announcement of a trade deal with China for breeding pigs, a live export protest was held outside Leinster house on 19th October in collaboration with My Lovely Pig Rescue and Animal Rebellion Ireland. Actress Pauline McLynn attended along with singer song writers Neil Hannon and Cathy Davey. The press coverage was incredible including a radio interview with You can read more about it here: https://www.ethicalfarmingireland.com/2021/10/09/live-export-protest/
Intergroup on the welfare and conservation of animals
Caroline Rowley was invited to give a presentation at the last intergroup session on structural breaches of Regulation 1/2005 regarding the transport of unweaned calves on 16th December that can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiWx_fCzf4o It starts with a presentation on calf transport in Europe by Peter Stevenson from Compassion in World Farming followed by one focusing on calf export from Ireland, including a short video. There are then questions and discussion.
I would like to say a big THANK YOU to all of you for sharing, emailing, donating, protesting and caring. We will bring about change, plenty to do in 2022!