Although food choices can have an impact on greenhouse gas emissions, well managed livestock can provide environmental benefits including supporting biodiversity, protecting the character and identity of the countryside and generating an important income for rural communities.
I am proud that the UK has some of the highest standards of animal welfare in the world. There is comprehensive legislation to uphold these standards, as well as guidance on how best to protect the welfare of specific animals living on farms, such as hens, pigs and cattle. The Government has already banned cages or close confinement systems where there is clear scientific evidence that they are detrimental to animal health and welfare.
Regarding exports, a consultation will shortly be carried out on restricting live animal journeys, requiring approval for longer journeys and bringing forward welfare conditions for these journeys when they are necessary. The Secretary of State has passionately campaigned for an end to live exports and I believe that these consultation proposals are a further step in taking forward our manifesto commitment on this issue. I hope you will take part in the consultation once it has opened.
Antibiotic resistance is the biggest threat to modern medicine and we must act now to help keep antibiotics effective for future generations. Responsible use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine, working closely with the farming industry and the veterinary profession, has long been promoted. In January 2019, the Government launched a 5-year action plan and a 20-year vision for how the UK will contribute to containing and controlling antimicrobial resistance by 2040. I am pleased that UK sales in antibiotics for food producing animals was reduced by 53 per cent between 2014 and 2018. This reduction is a testament to the improvements industry and the veterinary profession have made in antibiotic stewardship, training and disease control.