Scotland’s traditional livestock production is once again under threat from impractical and costly transport legislation.
A web consultation has been launched by the European Commission with the intention of reviewing the current legislation on travelling times and stocking densities for animals under transport. This development is alarming and unwelcome given that the current transport rules were only agreed in 2005 and just came into force last year.
To make matters worse, the consultation is badly written, is heavily weighted in favour of reduced journey times and stocking densities and is confusing to complete. With this in mind NFUS has issued guidance on completing the form and is encouraging individual farmers and other organisations to respond.
NFU Scotland Vice-President Nigel Miller said:
“Animal welfare is an issue of huge importance for Scotland’s agriculture industry. We have an excellent record on animal transport and that cause must not be undermined by resentment at ill thought out proposals such as these.
“It beggars belief that only 18 months into the new transport legislation, the Commission has chosen to reopen the debate on transport times and stocking densities. The latest regulations, which have introduced transporter authorisations and driver competence tests to those hauling livestock, will already take welfare standards throughout Europe to a new level. These must be given time to bed in and be properly assessed before any discussion on further change.
“If those behind the consultation get their way, then many journeys within the UK would be impossible, in particular, the movement of cattle and sheep from the Scottish Highlands and Islands and the transportation of pigs to England. These proposals wouldn’t let us operate within our own country.
“Reducing journey length, would have a huge impact on those producing cattle and sheep in our more remote areas. At the same time, cutting the numbers of stock allowed to be carried on a vehicle will drive up costs with the possibility of delivering poorer welfare conditions for those animals being transported. Even if journey length cuts are restricted to those animals going to abattoirs, then the Scottish industry’s reliance on slaughtering facilities elsewhere in the UK for cattle, sheep and pigs will be severely challenged.
"We are alive to the dangers posed by this consultation. We have provided a briefing to our members and are encouraging them to respond. We will be responding as a Union but greatest benefit will be achieved if individuals go online and respond in person.
“This European consultation only compounds the huge concerns we have over the availability of livestock haulage throughout Scotland. We will sit down in the next few weeks with the Institute of Auctioneers and the Road Haulage Association to discuss transport provision ahead of the forthcoming autumn sales. Haulage is already under severe pressure from driver legislation, fuel costs and new vehicle standards. Any notion of further restricting transport times or reducing stocking densities on vehicles will only add to the current problems of livestock production in our more remote parts.”
- The consultation is a web based consultation launched by DG SANCO, it will be open until 7 August 2008 and can be found at here.
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