11:00 - 23 October 2007
Animal rights protesters are expected to revive demonstrations which brought British ports to a near standstill 11 years ago after a report revealed a massive increase in live exports of calves for veal.
In the mid 1990s protesters blockaded ports across the country to prevent exports of veal calves to Europe.
In 1996 these were banned by the EU as one of a number of measures introduced when a possible connection between BSE in cattle and vCJD in humans was discovered.
Now the annual report by the RSPCA on animal health says live exports increased massively from less than 37,104 in 2005 to 530,588 in 2006.
The RSPCA said that in the second half of last year alone, over 128,000 live animals were shipped across the Channel. Most of the trade was in young male calves, due to be fattened and slaughtered in France or Germany. Farm leaders have warned that any repeat of the protests could stifle the industry's recovery.
Richard Haddock, Devon branch chairman of the National Farmers Union said: "We are over BSC so there's bound to be a big increase. For ten years we couldn't export at all.
"I can't understand what the RSPCA's concerns are. We have so many rules and regulations since 1995. We have allowed the RSPCA to travel in lorries. Many of them have video links in them - what are they whinging about?
"What do they want to do - put British agriculture out of business? We are part of Europe and we are allowed to export out to Europe.
"We have free trade within Europe and the same rules and regulations apply in Europe and the UK. Do they want to stick their noses into politics and take the UK out of Europe?
"The RSPCA is losing so much credibility from farmers - we used to support them. We have hit one thing after another recently and I will hold the RSPCA responsible for any disruptions to exports at any ports."
Exports reached more than one million animals before the trade was banned because of disease risks in 1996.
Thousand of animal rights campaigners held protests against live exports of veal calves and one person was killed when she became trapped under a lorry.
Many protests were held in Plymouth where lorries bound for Europe were transported from the port.
Eric Martlew, Labour chairman of the all-party parliamentary animal welfare group said: "There is a danger that we will have more demonstrations and I can understand that. They are exporting cruelty."
But the RSPCA said it was not responsible for the actions of protesters.
"We are making calls for the Government to look at this issue and do not support protests that are outside the law. If people want to protest that is up to them.
"We want consumers to be aware and get people to think about animal welfare when they are doing there shopping."