From a sheep farming friend today:
Good morning. I am angry, and I'm going to tell you why. It's topical, as it's about Australia, blowflies and sheep, and welfare standards.
In summer weather, blowflies - the green, shiny kind - lay eggs in the wool of sheep. The eggs hatch into maggots that, if unchecked, will eat into the skin and flesh of the sheep and ultimately kill it. It's a serious welfare issue.
This week I've sprayed my sheep with an insecticide developed for the purpose to prevent flies laying eggs in the wool. The Australian approach to the prevention of fly-strike is very different. It's a process called Mulesing.
Mulesing involves cutting a flap of skin from either side of the back-end of the sheep while still under 12 months old, as the healed skin is less susceptible to fly strike. And it's done without anaesthesia. I'll stop there. You can image the pain this causes. If you want more details, Google 'Mulesing'.
It's a process that's been done there for years, and astonishingly, persists - legally - despite pressure.
I cannot understand why a UK government concerned with high livestock welfare standards can contemplate a trade agreement with a country that allows Mulesing.
No photographs. You can guess what it looks like.
There are many reasons, imo, to oppose a trade agreement with Australia. Animal welfare must be high on that list.