Stock industry up in arms at transport rules
By Shelley Wright
STRONG opposition to the governments consultation document on implementing new European animal transport rules has emerged this week.
The document (News, Oct 27) covers the governments proposals on how the new rules should be applied. The measures come into effect across the EU on Dec 31, 1996.
A spokesman for the Livestock Auctioneers Association dismissed the proposals as "totally unworkable and impractical". He warned they could have a severe effect on livestock markets with knock-on consequences for farmers.
The European directive defines the start of a journey as the place where an animal has been rested for a minimum of 24 hours. If livestock markets cannot provide lairage facilities then it will be impossible to regard them as the start point of a journey, so time at markets would be included in the journey times.
"This is just crazy. Markets would, effectively, have to introduce feeding and watering facilities into every animal pen. Not all will be able to afford that, so the upshot is that we could see a reduction in the number of markets, which makes the whole business even more ridiculous," the LAA spokesman added.
Livestock exporter Roger Mills agreed. He said the European directive unfairly penalised the UK and Ireland because of their greater use of markets compared with other EU countries.
Scottish livestock trader Michele Kelly said the proposals in their present form represented the end of free trade, with a big financial loss for the farming community.
She described them as a "veiled attempt to eradicate the country of livestock markets and, therefore, free trade".
"The higher costs for markets, hauliers and dealers would all have to be passed back and it would be producers who would lose out," she said.
The journey times in the new rules have infuriated the British Pig Association. It is concerned that the need to unload and rest breeding pigs for 24 hours, after they had travelled for 24 hours, could seriously damage the UKs £28m breeding-stock export business.
BPA chief executive, Grenville Welsh, said unloading and reloading would cause more stress to the animals. It could also threaten the animals high health status and would increase costs.
There was no justification for such a move because breeding pigs were already transported in individual pens, with access to water.
The Meat and Livestock Commission and the NFU are both still studying the consultation document and had no initial comments to make.