Animal transport plans threaten cost increases
By Marianne Curtis
PROPOSED new legislation on animal transport threatens to increase costs to hauliers and ultimately producers.
While some sectors agree that existing legislation needs teeth, a balance must be struck between welfare and costs, say others.
The proposals (News, Aug 20) include introducing an independent certificate of competence for anyone transporting stock on journeys over eight hours.
Independent assessment is welcomed by the Road Haulage Associations Eddie Harper. "We have no problem with independent assessment and are glad to be rid of self-assessment.
"Everyone says they are good, when assessing themselves, dont they. A lot of hauliers undergo independent assessment already, to prove that they are up to scratch."
Another part of the proposals means applying the Welfare of Animals Transport Order to producers transporting animals less than 50km. The order includes regulations on feeding, watering and resting animals, but experts are not sure how it will apply to short journeys.
But Mr Harper believes it should not give producers too much cause for concern.
"Producers are competent to transport animals by the nature of their jobs. There may be the odd problem, however, if trailers are not properly maintained and where they are unaware of stocking density requirements."
Making sure producers and hauliers are fully aware of legislation requirements will be essential, says the SACs Jamie Robertson.
"I would be surprised if all hauliers required to do self-assessment in the past have done it and are fully aware of the regulations. A lot of effort needs to be put into informing hauliers and producers.
"A booklet, possibly co-ordinated by the NFU, is needed to guide producers through the legislation. Auction markets are excellent places to disseminate information about transport."
However, Scottish NFU policy manager, Richard Henton is concerned that new legislation may mean extra bureaucracy for producers. "Producers may need to complete journey plans. I am also concerned that the legislation will mean more cost for producers when they are already overburdened."
But legislation affecting producers transporting animals under 50km will not mean more documentation, says a MAFF spokesperson. "There is no question of producers having to fill out route plans to move animals two miles down the road."
Cost is a concern, however, for National Sheep Association chief executive John Thorley. "The legislation will increase costs. Most producers and hauliers would fulfil the regulations anyway but would baulk at increased costs.
"We are in competition with countries such as the Republic of Ireland where animals are transported in open-topped trailers. They dont seem to worry too much, and their stock are in good condition."
• A copy of the proposals can be obtained from MAFF (0645-335577). Comments should be addressed to Animal Welfare Division, MAFF, Government Buildings, Hook Rise South, Tolworth, Surbiton, Surrey, KT6 7NF. *