31 March 1995

Tough transport rules due from Irish minister

IRISH farm minister Ivan Yates is to implement national livestock transport rules after farm ministers failed to agree EU legislation at this weeks farm council.

Mr Yates said the code, based on the French presidencys compromise paper, would "give Ireland the highest animal welfare standards in the world". The rules specify:

l15-hour transport times for unweaned calves, lambs, kids and piglets, with two-hour watering periods after eight hours and 12-hour rests after 15 hours, after which the journey can restart.

l24 hours for cattle, sheep and goats, with two-hour watering periods every eight hours, and 12-hour rests after 24 hours, after which the journey can restart.

l24 hours for pigs with watering periods every eight hours and a second final 24-hour journey after two hours of rest if vehicles meet the specific conditions.

l12-hour rest periods for animals transported by sea when they reach the destination point.

Journey plans

To enforce the Irish rules, officials said transporters must file journey plans which they must obey or risk their licences. Spot checks will be carried out on the Continent by Irish veterinary inspectors to ensure legislation is being enforced.

Speaking after the meeting, farm commissioner Franz Fischler said he favoured an eight-hour limit for all animals transported in trucks and trailers. But derogations could apply to specially adapted vehicles which have air-conditioning, partitions for young animals, loading and unloading equipment and food supplies.

Up to 24 hours

For adapted vehicles, Mr Fischler suggested journeys of up to 24 hours, with two- to three-hour breaks every eight hours.

Member states could adopt national measures while no EU rules exist, said Mr Fischler. Southern countries – Italy, Greece, and Portugal – still demand 24 hour journey times, followed by six-hour breaks. They argue that journeys would last for up to three days under the French compromise and impose too much stress on animals.

Benelux countries said they could support the French compromise in principle but demanded shorter journey times and longer rest periods for all animals. UK officials said they could accept journeys of about 15 hours with longer breaks. Germany insisted on an eight-hour absolute time limit on slaughter animals while Denmark demands a 16-18-hour limit on animals for slaughter.

Austrian officials said they want to stick to their national rules of six-hour journeys for slaughter animals, followed by breaks. Sweden wants an eight-hour limit.