No Change Imminent On Animal Transport Regs

14 October 2011
Scottish MEP Alyn Smith has today (Friday) welcomed confirmation from the European Commission that no change is imminent in the time limits for animal transport.
Alyn, in a meeting with a senior Commission official and Nigel Miller, President of the National Farmers Union Scotland, sought clarification on the upcoming report on the situation in the animal transport sector and was pleased to receive confirmation that the report is no threat to Scottish farmers.

In a wide-ranging meeting which covered the situation in the egg sector, the pig meat sector and agricultural trade regulations, Alyn sought confirmation from the Commission that Scots farmers who have invested and complied with European legislation will not be unfairly penalised due to non-compliance by other EU Member States. This is a particular concern due to the increasing number of reports which suggest that the changeover from battery cages will not be completed by the deadline at the end of this year, despite a 12 year phase-in period.

Speaking after the meeting, Alyn said:
"This meeting was helpful, and I have no doubt that Scotland's farmers will be relieved to hear that there are no plans to reduce journey times any time soon. We have known that this stock-take was coming for quite a while now, but it is good to get confirmation that our farmers will not find themselves facing even tougher, possibly unworkable, restrictions on livestock movements.

"Instead, it does appear that this report will be looking into the root cause of the problem - a lack of proper implementation in other EU Member States. As we are too frequently seeing at the moment, the unwillingness, or even the inability, of other European countries to properly implement or enforce European legislation, whether on battery cages, or sow stalls, or on journey times and conditions, not only disadvantages Scottish producers who have invested and complied, but also begs the question, what next? If non-implementation is consistently overlooked, or tolerated, then what impetus is there for other EU Directives to be properly enforced?

"After this morning's meeting I am at least quite comfortable that the current lack of enforcement in the animal transport regs will not be dealt with through the introduction of new rules. The Commission's focus is very much on making the existing rules work as well as possible, to ensure animal welfare, but also to reward farmers and transporters who employ best practice.

"We now have to wait with bated breath for the report to be published in a couple of weeks, and then the discussion on remedies can properly commence."