NFU Scotland’s President, Jim McLaren has challenged Europe to better enforce existing animal transport laws before giving consideration to new rules that could seriously impinge on Scotland’s ability to move livestock.
At a conference in Brussels today (Thursday, 18 November) Mr McLaren told delegates that Scotland has an excellent record on delivering a consistently high level of animal health and welfare across its farming sector and that the livestock industry in the country has already taken on board the full and costly implementation of current animal transport legislation. There is concern and suspicion that not all Member States’ records on animal transport would not stand such scrutiny.
Any further regulation on animal transport might have a huge impact on Scotland’s ability to move animals longer distances from the key livestock producing areas, including the Highlands and Islands, to essential markets and abattoirs in the south. Mr McLaren urged delegates to support an NFUS paper, delivered to the Commission in the spring, that outlines suggestions on how to deliver better enforcement of the current regulations and demanded that if rules are to be changed in the future, then science and not emotion must be the driver.
Speaking at the conference, Mr McLaren said:
“In Scotland, where safe transport of livestock is such a crucial part of our industry, we are acutely aware of the impact that any further regulation in this area would have on our ability to produce. A European report on how the existing animal transport legislation is being enforced will be tabled next year and we will study that closely when it appears.
“Animal transport standards in the EU, upgraded only a few years ago, are already world-leading underpinned by requirements such as competence testing, vehicle authorisations and inspections. These are all aspects of the regulation that I, as a Scottish livestock farmer, have complied with.
“Farmers and hauliers have already gone the extra mile to comply with these more stringent standards and helped Scotland and the UK maintain its excellent record on animal welfare. However, unacceptable failings – particularly on long distance movements - are still occurring across mainland Europe.
“The planned European investigation into compliance dovetails with our own position as we remain adamant that the EU must not regulate further in this area but instead concentrate on enforcing the current Regulation properly. It is a matter of making these world-leading standards work in all Member States and looking at smarter ways to enforce the rules.
“In a bid to move the debate on, we sent a working document on enforcement to Commissioner Dalli in March and took the opportunity to discuss that paper with his official, Mr Gavinelli in September. It outlines a pilot project to test new ways of using satellite surveillance to ensure that all EU Member States adhere to the current regulation. It also looks at the roles of third parties, such as official veterinarians operating in meat plants receiving stock that have been transported long distances, in ensuring compliance with requirements.
“In Scotland, we continue to take our responsibilities on animal health and welfare seriously and are delivering on a number of areas including transport. We need others to come up to the existing mark before any consideration can be given to legislative changes.”
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