29 November 1996

New rules allow

longer journeys

PRODUCERS may be allowed to move stock in farm trailers over longer distances than previously expected when the Welfare of Animals in Transit directive is implemented.

John Thorley, chief executive of the National Sheep Association, told the Sheep Health and Welfare 96 conference, at Malvern, that the NSA had pleaded the case for specially designed livestock trailers towed by four-wheel drive vehicles to be used for longer duration journeys.

"At a recent workshop arranged by MAFF at Whitehall, we got the clear impression that such trailers would, with very slight amendment, be considered suitable," said Mr Thorley.

If this proved to be the case it would be an example of making rules based on a combination of sound welfare, science and good commercial and practical information, and not on the emotional preconceptions of part-time welfarists, he said.

In contrast to some organisations, the RSPCA was willing to discuss practical workable solutions with people possessing experience and knowledge of the livestock industry.

But Mr Thorley was scathing about those who used the current transport and welfare debate to promote vegetarianism, and who wanted to destroy communities dependent on growing livestock for meat. Their position had to be challenged constantly, and not allowed to prevail, he warned.

"Scientists, politicians, interviewers, and others who pontificate about our industry, should be asked if they themselves are meat eaters.

"While the proportion of people who are non-meat eaters is very small, it is my belief that their influence is considerable, and they have an evangelical zeal which does not always pay strict attention to the facts."

The industry must take positive action to counter the activities of people who pedalled exaggerated, salacious, misleading gossip, he warned. &#42

Producers may be able to use livestock trailers and four-wheel drive vehicles to transport animals over longer distances, said John Thorley.