The ban on cattle slaughter, which was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers in September 2020, is scheduled to be implemented soon.
At present, the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious, and Cultural Affairs is discussing the final draft, Ministry Secretary Prof. Kapila Gunawardana said. “We are in the final stages of discussions with the Attorney General (AG) regarding the drafting of a new act to ban the slaughter of cattle. We hope that it will be implemented within the next few months.”
Prof. Gunawardana further said that although the provisions would cover the ban of cattle slaughter for the purposes of meat, the import of beef would still be allowed. “Banning the slaughter of cattle is mainly to solve the problems of dairy farmers. Currently, people who slaughter cattle for meat, slaughter female cows and calves as well, which in turn results in economic losses to dairy farmers,” stressed Prof. Gunawardana.
When inquired as to how the problem of ageing cows would be solved, Prof. Gunawardana said that there are plans to export the ageing cows overseas. Prof. Gunawardana also added that there are no immediate mechanisms to protect or assist those who would be financially affected by this decision.
In September 2020, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s proposal to the Cabinet of Ministers to ban the slaughter of cattle was approved. It was reported at the time that the Cabinet would especially consider amending the Animals Act No. 29 of 1958 and the Butchers Ordinance No. 9 of 1893.
The Department of Census and Statistics records the Gampaha District as having slaughtered the highest number of cattle at licensed slaughterhouses in 2019, amounting to 10,859 cattle.