Defra proposals to ban livestock journeys during temperatures extremes have been described as “bonkers” by NFU president Minette Batters.
The Defra consultation proposes to impose a ban on livestock journeys in England and Wales above 65km (40 miles) on days when outside temperatures are forecast to be below 5C or above 30C. A parallel exercise is currently under way by the Scottish government.
For poultry, the proposed conditions are even stricter, with an operating temperature range of 5-25C.
NFU Scotland (NFUS) chief executive Scott Walker said union members were particularly agitated by the consultations, which he said could have “massive implications” for livestock movements in Scotland.
Speaking at the NFUS annual conference on Thursday (11 February), Mrs Batters said there was “enormous shock” among farmers about the proposals.
“To impose minimum and maximum temperatures on the transport of livestock is quite honestly completely and utterly bonkers,” she said.
“It’s the classic mistake we make of thinking that livestock need to have the same environment as we do. They need to have a completely different environment.
“The main thing, as we all know, is that they need fresh throughput of air. Whether there are cold or hot temperatures, the main thing is airflow.”
Mrs Batters said she was “reliably informed” that Defra would not be taking these proposals forward. But farmers were also very concerned about proposals to cut livestock times and reduce long journeys.
She added that there were fears for the future of live animal exports and the problems this could cause moving stock between Ireland and Great Britain. A lack of border control posts to allow imports of breeding stock was also worrying.
NFU Cymru president John Davies said imposing temperature limits on livestock journeys would be “absolutely mad”. Ulster Farmers’ Union president Victor Chestnutt agreed that the suggestion “beggars belief”.