Smith's Reaction To EU Animal Transport Rumours
The supposed grounds for this tightening are poor enforcement of standards in other EU countries, though the restrictions would penalise Scots animal producers, given we already have to cope with geographic constraints. In particular, a proposed time limit on animal journeys would, if agreed, make livestock rearing impossible for vast swathes of Scotland.
"This issue just refuses to die. We have been keeping a close eye on it and I do not like what I see, I was aware proposals were in the offing but had hoped for something more sensible than this, though it is to be fair a leaked draft document.
"However, yet again we see another clear example of why Commissioner Fischer Boel and her team of Agricultural experts should handle all aspects of animal health, where within the Commission animal health is dealt with by people who I suspect have little familiarity and even less affection for Europe's farmers.
"The Commission's justification for new and tougher rules appears to be that the current rules are not being properly enforced across all EU states. I have some sympathy with that, but surely the answer is to force better enforcement, not use a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
"However, we should be cautious. There will be other countries opposed to these proposals when, or indeed if, they are published. We in Scotland are not alone in having islands, or large territories and one need only look at a map to see where our likely allies are. Certainly the current Swedish Presidency will have no difficulty understanding the concept of large distances.
"The last thing our farmers need is a tighter set of rules, the current set is only just bedding in. I will be raising this document with Commissioner Vassiliou when she comes before the Agriculture Committee, and my support for her nomination is by no means guaranteed."
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