Farmers Ferry welfare pledge
FARMERS Ferry bosses have pledged to work more closely with animal welfare officials after they were criticised for denying a MAFF inspector access to their ship.
Representatives of the farmer-owned ferry company met MAFF officials on Friday to discuss the circumstances which led them to turn away a veterinary inspector from their ship as it transported a cargo of live sheep to France last week.
The inspector had asked, in accordance with existing animal welfare regulations, to accompany the 12 lorry loads of sheep from Dover to Dunkirk after forecasts of bad weather and force eight gales in the English Channel last Wednesday.
But the ferry captain refused the inspector access and later set sail alone, claiming the weather had improved significantly and the wind had calmed.
The move incurred the wrath of junior farm minister Elliot Morley, who described the action as irresponsible. "I find the lack of co-operation from the operators of Farmers Ferry extraordinary and deplorable, especially in view of the ferry operators professed adherence to high animal welfare standards," he said.
Company secretary, David Owen, said this week that Farmers Ferry would in future work more closely with MAFF to ensure that the highest animal welfare standards were maintained. *