6 December, 2021

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Prohibiting Cattle Slaughter: Another Blunder In Waiting!

By R.P. Gunawardane

Prof R.P. Gunawardane

About one year ago cabinet of ministers decided to ban slaughter of cattle and selling beef at the request of various groups and organizations. But this decision although much publicized was dormant for a period without any attempt for implementation. It has resurfaced again recently and the decision to implement this proposal has now been announced by the government. Although the government says that this move is necessary to further develop agriculture and dairy production, most experts say otherwise.

We have seen a series of blunders in decision making by the present government over the last two years. Proposed banning of slaughter of cattle is yet again another blunder added to this list with serious consequences. Out of all the vital and important issues that should be urgently addressed in Sri Lanka in the midst of the worst pandemic in this century, why should we prioritize prohibiting cattle slaughter?

Although the government is banning slaughter of cattle, it is not prohibiting the consumption of beef. Thus, beef has to be imported to Sri Lanka using valuable and scarce foreign exchange. Once it is imported it will be extremely expensive. According to sources the price of imported beef will be almost double the current price making it rich man’s source of protein. Currently beef is considered as poor man’s source of protein.

It must be stressed that this action severely affects the livelihood of a group of people, a majority coming from one ethnic group while it devoid the use of beef as a source of protein for the poor man.

As in all previous episodes no proper and extensive consultations have been done with the relevant scientists, dairy industry, representatives of the dairy farmers or even the state organization responsible for this subject area, the National Livestock Development Board (NLDB), whose board members are appointed by this government. This is another example and a display of absolute ignorance in governing by the present government.

The proposal is to import beef to Sri Lanka after implementing the ban of cattle slaughter. The cost of import of beef at the current official rate of exchange is estimated to be about Rs.40 billion a year.

Whole purpose of reducing the cattle slaughter is lost because this will increase the cattle slaughtering in other countries to supply beef to Sri Lanka. Religious reasons are frequently quoted by various proponents of this proposal. However, in Buddhism all animals are considered equal. Therefore, on the same argument slaughter of pigs for pork, goats for mutton and chicken all should be banned. Furthermore, killing fish and selling all kinds of fish also should be prohibited to effectively implement this policy.

In a multiethnic society, it is argued that prohibiting beef consumed daily by one section of the community just to uphold the religious beliefs of another section of the society is highly unreasonable and unethical.

Long time ago Cuba also banned slaughter of cattle beef but later it reversed its decision as a part of agricultural reforms in the country. Even in India slaughter of cattle is not completely banned in the whole country. In some regions, especially in some states of India, the slaughter of cattle is prohibited and the meat is banned because cattle are considered sacred in Hinduism.

In some of these states in India even the import or selling of beef is banned. In all the states in India where this law applies, the farmers have faced considerable reduction in profits mainly due to the ban on the sale of unproductive cattle for slaughter and increased cost burden for maintaining unproductive cattle. It is also reported that illegal slaughtering of cattle is rampant in these states. Farm output and incomes have been drastically reduced leading to loss of many employment opportunities in the dairy, meat and related industries. In addition, the number of stray cattle in these states has been increased rapidly to uncontrollable levels. As a result, there were series of protests in most of these states against this policy.

It is a well-known fact that dairy farming is not profitable if this facility of selling cattle for beef is not allowed. A large number of dairy farmers in this country will be severely affected by this policy because selling unwanted and unproductive cattle is a source of income for them and it will subsidize the price of milk. As such, if this facility is not allowed most dairy farmers will go out of business seriously affecting the supply of fresh milk.

Normally cow gives milk from around age 3 – 10 years but lives for about 20 years. When the cow becomes unproductive, farmers have to sell it for slaughter. Male cattle also should be slaughtered to control their numbers. If the milk producer cannot get rid of unproductive cows and excess male cattle, the farmer will have to feed them in the rest of their life. Since the unproductive cows will be as many as productive ones, the cost to feed them will be enormous leading to bankruptcy. This also will increase the price of milk considerably.

Thus, the ban on slaughtering cattle will seriously affect the economy of any dairy industry whether small or large. The farmers will face double brunt in terms of reduction in profits due to the ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter even if it is unproductive, and increased cost burden for maintaining unproductive cattle.

Closing of beef stalls will seriously affect livelihood of a group of people, a majority coming from one community. It is their profession for many generations and it is an emotional issue leading to social unrest in the country giving further problems to the government.

In addition, this ban will most likely promote illegal trade and slaughter of cattle, defeating the main purpose envisaged in the policy. Furthermore, this policy is expected to have huge economic cost in terms of loss of milk production and loss of employment in milk, meat and leather industries.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    28

    The land and water required to maintain cattle is enormous and causes environmental damage. Before the arrival of Europeans, Buddhist’s and Hindus were largely vegetarians ( there were no Christians in Ceylon before the Portuguese ) So, whose affected by this ban ? The Muslims ? Well, there are 54 Muslim counties that they can seek asylum in . Wonderful places like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia , Turkmenistan etc. All these countries have ancient mosques that they can pray 10 times a day and Sharia laws and courts.

    • 5
      0

      In a land where a jailbird Gandasara Hamuduruwo can be appointed to chair a commission on “One law one country”, what else can be expected? However, given the record of the Chief Idiot on reversing gazettes, this too will be reversed, like the Chinese fertilizer ship now in reverse gear.

  • 13
    0

    As a Buddhist & an animal lover, I remain a sceptic as its not a practical solution. Why only cattle slaughter? Just as poaching in game reserves continue unabated & many of us even unconcerned about it, illicit beef will be available under the counter, perhaps, even prized as a delicacy by those unable to afford imported beef. Also, the slaughter of other animals will increase to meet the demand for meat. As long as there is a demand, there will be a supply. Alcohol prohibition in the US failed but made bootleggers, such as, Al Capone, rich & powerful as mobsters.

    A better solution would be laws against animal cruelty & inhumane slaughter. UK prides itself for animal welfare in farms, & NGOs, such as, the RSPCA, monitors slaughter houses. Under pressure, the UK govt. even banned the export of live animals. Some may argue that since the ‘hunter gatherers’ of stone age, humans have been carnivore & we cannot force people but if, at least, all the so called Buddhists became vegetarian, meat consumption, not only beef, would be less, which, I suppose, is the objective of the campaigners.

    This is just another pathetic attempt by a failing govt. to gain popularity among the gullible public.

    • 1
      1

      Dear Raj-UK,
      .
      Thanks for talking sense.
      .
      I used to eat beef; I don’t now since I appear to have developed an allergy to it. My skin starts itching.
      .
      About twelve years ago, an intelligent doctor diagnosed the agonies I had suffered frequently for the previous two years to be owing to gout. Under control now. I don’t consume any alcohol, so probably my gout is hereditary.
      .
      All that I have said without referring to “religion”. We all know what pain is. Probably neither of us has killed anything larger than a rat. We have no personal desire to slaughter a large animal. Yet, we must be grateful to the butchers who do the necessary “dirty” work.
      .
      Have you read George Elliot’s Silas Marner? Do you remember the kindly butcher in Chapter Six?
      .
      https://www.litcharts.com/lit/silas-marner/chapter-6
      .
      So butchers don’t always turn out to be nasty, and they don’t have to be Muslims.
      .
      I have no allergic reaction to pork. How does a pig become a sausage? Most packets display a smiling pig; it may be that they voluntarily turned themselves into protein for us. Muslims don’t have anything do with that!

  • 3
    4

    As I always say
    avoid getting involved in arguments over
    1) killing animals for food
    2) sexual morality
    Because the opposite side can easily bring you along your own arguments to a point you are not prepared to admit.

    Soma

    • 1
      0

      Soma
      May I generalize your “As you always say” to
      Avoid getting involved in arguments, as the opposite side can easily bring you along your own arguments to a point you are not prepared to admit.

  • 12
    0

    Thank you, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse, for “SAVING” the lives of many of those “CATTLE” presently herded in that mansion called the Parliament of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. However, you must know that those “CATTLES” (including you) would not be spared by the PEOPLE who all this while have spent a colossal sum of money to maintain them without any return on that capital investment.

  • 21
    2

    Sri Lanka is not really a Buddhist country except by name. Very few people adhere to the norms suggested by the Buddha. In fact most people do exactly the opposite of what he taught. They lie every day about many things, steal (in the form of bribes or unfair siphoning of benefits or funds), take intoxicants (watch the long queues at bottle shops) have illicit affairs outside the home (office liaisons, or other social venues) and kill in many ways (or indirectly cause the death of other sentient beings). These five precepts are the basic ones that people promise to abide by when they take “pansil”. However, they offer flowers, incense sticks, various ornaments to places of worship, pour water to trees and instead pray for some personal benefit. Governments do not like a united population, as it is the divisions that can be exploited to advantage. In this instance, the Muslim community is targeted for discrimination with the banning. Terms such as “kiri amma” are given to the “holy” cows (unlike in the Hindu tradition where they assume deity status). These emotional terms are used to mislead the gullible, ignorant and wholly supremacist sections of society who can become a vote base if elections at any level are held. Therein lies a clue to the latest shenanigan.

  • 5
    1

    Dear Mr Gunawardane,
    Well written article. One pertinent point missed out is the fact of carbon emissions from cattle.

    Cattle are the No. 1 agricultural source of greenhouse gases worldwide. Each year, a single cow will belch about 220 pounds of methane. Methane from cattle is shorter lived than carbon dioxide but 28 times more potent in warming the atmosphere.
    If cattle slaughter is implemented strictly, greenhouse gas emissions will increase exponentially. Harm done to the environment would be far greater.
    India is the 4th largest beef exporting country. The top companies that export beef in India have Arab names but are owned by Hindus!
    Hypocricy everywhere!

  • 4
    2

    Good, I also need the slaughter of pigs( smile) and chickens, turkey and eating of fish m snails, earthworms and insects banned. Slaughter of verything that walks, flies, creeps, swims and crawls should be banned. Pigs are endearing pets. Please consult me for details. So are birds. Please be satisfied with eating Soya meat.

    • 0
      0

      Nonsense PK, they have to start somewhere, why not with the cow that is holy to Hindus? By the way your friends at Tamil net forgot to mention that more than 100 Officers and other ranks donated blood to replenish stocks in the Kilinochchi Base Hospital last Tuesday. An easy mistake for Tamil racists to make.

  • 4
    0

    Good essay, R.P., and very logical.

    However, those who make these “gon” decisions will never be persuaded by logic and reason.

    They will go the way that all tyrants have gone. Hopefully soon.

  • 3
    0

    Prohibiting Cattle Slaughter: Another Blunder In Waiting!

    Mad cow disease.

    When cow population increases Humans generally acquire the disease through direct contact with infected animals.

  • 3
    0

    Another drama on ferilizer. Now agreed to test the sample by a mutually agreed third Party. What do you mean by third party? Is it decided by Rajapaksas and China? How do you know that it is going to be same sample?

    • 1
      0

      Ajith: You asked: “Is it decided by Rajapakse and China”? Here is what happened. The Minister of Agriculture, Mahindadanda Aluthgamage, and the State Minister of Agriculture, Shasindra Rajapakse were “Summoned” by the Ambassador of China to his office to discuss the arrival of the shipment. At the Ambassador’s office, both the Minister and the State Minister “Agreed” to have the tests are done by a “Third Party” proposed by the Chinese Co. This was as reported in “Media”, but not “Denied” by the Ministry of Agriculture.

      So the “DECISION” was “MADE” by representing China Envoy and the exporting “Company” of China.

    • 0
      1

      It cannot be the same sample. One cannot retest a tested sample.
      It will be from the same shipment.
      *
      [You may add: One never knows with the Chinese, with their slant eyes and high cheekbones, they can never be trusted.]

      • 1
        0

        Only an aliquot of a sample is tested.

        There should be the remainder of the original sample from which another aliquot can be obtained and tested.

  • 11
    1

    @MrGunawardena , with all due respect , your article does provide alot of valid and practical issues and I agree that the economic impact is not only going to be felt by one community but others too.
    Meat industry , be it any animal or bird family is the major player in the food chain industry globally and any unwise decisions without alternatives will undoubtedly have a severe consequence of a domino effect.
    But as we know there is a severe religous and traditional sentiveness towards beef consumption in Sri Lanka and what I fear now is with total ban will a certain groups take advantage to spread hate and create a new beef vigilence to emerge like in another country ?
    We have witnessed on international.mediad very disturbing incidents, most of which were purely based on suspicion as per the medias reporting and victims were innocent, where merciless and brutal incidents had occured and the victims of that country were niether afforded any protection nor justice
    ====
    The only option would be as to maintain a balance , to export all the unproductive cows and excess bulls and remove all duties on the import of beef and only add a gst of no more than 7% and make it accessible to all the beef stall owners , indiscremenate of religion.or race.

    • 0
      4

      So, your “solution” Fahim, is to export the cattle, get them slaughtered elsewhere, and then import the beef.
      .
      I saw it said elsewhere, export to Bangladesh, and provide value addition to that country.
      .
      I’m not a nationalist, so forget which country it is that benefits. Just think of all the finite terrestrial resources expended in exporting the live cattle, and importing the beef. As a homosapien can’t you do some thinking?
      .
      I respect consistent vegans like Rajan Hoole and Nagananda Kodituwakku. I have discussed this in some detail with the former. He thinks that he and animals are equal. He doesn’t preach to me what I should do.
      .
      I also respect the butcher who provides an unappreciated service that is necessary if we need both these things:
      .
      a Domestication of animals
      .
      b “Saving” so many human lives (without strict eugenics) that humans over-populate planet Earth.
      .
      Given those two conditions, it is absolutely necessary that management of animal husbandry must make economic sense. It is a bonus if you allow those animals a measure of normal “happy” life. Slaughtering unproductive males and aged females becomes necessary.
      .
      Dr Gunewardena (why the devil do you insult him with “Mr”) has written sense. If you can’t write similar sense, do us all the favour of not writing at all!

      • 3
        0

        @pani aka sinhala mans .
        When did Calling a Doctor .Mister become an insult ?
        Why are you agitated with my opinion,.? What makes you believe that you have the right to oder readers of CT how and what to write and also what makes you believe your two bit
        Shakespears lines you have mamaged to memorize and parot makes you one who writes sense ?

        Go read your own articles,.they are like the Sinhala saying kohade yena male pol.

        You have anything personal against me, be civilized and dont mix it with my right to my opinion.
        Was surpirized to see CT publish your senseless articles.

  • 1
    0

    Good luck in making Sri lankans vegetarian. The vast majority of them lust for meat and think being a vegetarian is some kind of disorder!
    Personally i believe meat eating in moderation is fine, especially if you live a physically demanding lifestyle.
    But the key is moderation!
    Modern day civilisation has made it too easy for people to gorge on flesh 3x a day and it is causing all kinds of health problems. The fact that most meat comes from industrial farming where the animals are abused, and injected with all sorts of chemicals makes it even worse for the consumer!

  • 4
    0

    “In a multiethnic society, it is argued that prohibiting beef consumed daily by one section of the community just to uphold the religious beliefs of another section of the society is highly unreasonable and unethical.”

    You have put it very neatly Professor, so that anyone can understand. Or are there people who cannot understand even this clearly expressed observation?

    • 0
      4

      Dear Captain Morgan,
      .
      You’ve asked “. . are there people who cannot understand . . .? Yes, there are.
      .
      See what Fahim Knight has said above. Let’s await his response.
      .
      Panini (in Bandarawela)

      • 2
        0

        @Pani
        It is nothing to with understanding , it is a matter of opinion of altermative for both parties, one who wants them slaughtered and those against it due to their beliefs .

        If you cant grasp the rationale or accept it purely because of the prejudise against me , there is a problem with you.

        I do not wish to waste my time energy, valuable bandwidth with those who are willing to waste theirs to vent their hate and anger for not letting them recite poems over the phone using it as a bulldozer to prevent other from making their point.
        Cheers ,

  • 2
    0

    Surplus cattle but what is the extent of this surplus. EFFORTS FOR FEEDING AND END UP USELESS
    WHAT HAPPENS TO MALE CALVES Do dairy suffer.

  • 3
    0

    @Pani ,
    Do not misqoute me ,
    I never suggested the unproductive cattle both male and female exported to be slaughtered in another country and imported to Sri Lanka, are you delutional by any chance?

    On public platforms be it on any ,
    One needs to be very careful of misqouting people ,it can lead to legal conequences.
    I request CT to edit Panni’s insertions of misquoting my comment.
    Thank you.

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