NFU Scotland has stressed the importance of the live export
trade to farmers and emphasised the rigorous welfare standards
that apply to the transport of cattle to Europe.
On Wednesday (3 May), the ban on the export of British beef, introduced
a decade ago, will be lifted. As world famous Scottish beef heads
back to European dinner tables, as well as carcasses and cuts being
exported, live cattle can also be moved over the Channel. NFUS
has stressed that the transport of cattle to Europe is governed
by tight regulations. NFUS is also asking its members to take an
extra step and get assurances from exporters that their animals
will only be taken to European farms which operate to the highest
From 1 January 2007, the use of veal crates will be banned across
Europe, although the UK has already banned their use and other
member states have taken a similar step, including the Netherlands
which historically sourced live cattle from the UK.
Rather than campaign against this trade, NFUS believes animal
rights groups would be better advised to demand that UK companies
do not import food from farming systems that do not have our high
welfare standards. The Union believes that animal rights campaigns
against UK live exports hit the wrong target. They ignore the import
of food into this country from foreign farm systems that would
be deemed illegal here and wrongly target UK farmers who are going
the extra mile on welfare standards.
Nigel Miller, a vet and farmer from the Borders, who chairs NFU
Scotland's Livestock Committee said:
"As a farmer, I know this trade is vital to the industry
and, as a vet, I know we are treating animals with the highest
standards of care. Of course we would far rather see calves reared
in this country, but the fact is there isn't the demand for male
dairy calves here.
"I would certainly request that our members demand assurances
from exporters that their animals will only go to farms complying
with the strictest standards - including the ban on veal crates.
"Technology has advanced significantly over the last decade.
Vets and government inspectors are involved in transportation and
we have vehicles fitted with cooling systems, water and in-cab
monitors so the driver can keep a check on animals as they travel.
"I am sorry to see animal rights groups target a legitimate
and well-run UK trade. The hard reality is that many male dairy
calves are put down at birth because they have no market. I find
it strange that a group which says it fights for the welfare of
animals would rather see calves put down at birth than live a productive
life in a market where they are valued, especially when the Scottish
industry is insisting on the same high standards abroad.
"If these groups really want to make a difference on animal
welfare, rather than target the UK which is renowned for its exceptional
standards of care, they should join the farming industry and demand
that we stop importing food from foreign farming systems that would
be illegal in this country."
. NFU Scotland has produced a guide for farmers on the export
of cattle, outlining the rules and regulations that govern the
trade and the steps that must be taken to get export authorisation.
A copy is available on request on 0131 472 4023.
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