8 June 2001
Welfare worries over 20-day rule

By Isabel Davies

GOVERNMENT advisors on animal welfare issues have expressed reservations about the proposed 20-day standstill on livestock movements.

This measure has been put forward to reduce the number of livestock movements, which are believed to have increased the spread of foot-and-mouth.

The chairman of the Farm Animal Welfare Council told an open meeting in London on Friday (8 June) that the group had concerns.

“We are very concerned that a rigid 20-day standstill, as proposed, is likely to undermine the viability of sheep husbandry systems,” said Judy MacArthur Clark.

“This has the potential to create significant welfare problems for the animals trapped within non-viable systems.”

Mrs MacArthur Clark said it was important that any policy of imposed standstill periods was carefully thought through to avoid future welfare problems.

A reliable and effective method of identifying animals was also crucial, she said.

“We also believe that remarkable improvements in welfare and disease control could be gained through tighter enforcement of existing markets and transport legislation.

“However, this would require additional resources,” she added.

Farm organisations have already spoken out against the proposals, which they fear will spell an end for many people involved in the livestock trade.

The National Sheep Association has agreed that better identification of animal movements is vital, but insists the movement ban is a step too far.

The National Farmers Union has warned that it will fight to get a set of proposals that will do the job without loading extra work onto producers.

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