09 April 1999
Government clamps down on live exports
By Johann Tasker
TIGHTER controls aimed at curbing the export of live animals to the Continent will come into effect by the end of next month, the government has announced.
Exporters will face extra charges for transporting animals inspected by independently nominated veterinarians, said junior agriculture minister Elliot Morley.
The current system of determining whether animals are fit to travel has been criticised because it involves veterinary inspectors who are employed by the exporters.
But that system will be scrapped in favour of new arrangement involving inspections by independent veterinarians operated through the Ministry of Agriculture.
At least part of the cost of employing those inspectors will then be passed back to the live export companies through a national charge on animal exports.
Mr Morley has long been in favour of banning the live export trade completely but is prevented from doing so by European Union free trade rules.
Mr Morley said: The Government is committed to ensuring the highest possible standards of animals health and welfare apply when exports do take place.
The arrangements will apply to the system of pre-export certification for sheep and pigs being sent for slaughter or fattening in other EU Member States.
Animal rights campaigners cautiously welcomed the move, but it is likely that the new guidelines could disadvantage British farmers involved in the export trade.
The welfare group Compassion in World Farming believes that live exports could be rendered unprofitable if the new regulations are tight enough.
TV scriptwriter Carla Lane, founder of The Protesters group against live exports, described Mr Morleys announcement as quite encouraging.
Weve waiting such a long time for this, she said. Five years ago none of this would be happening.
Farmers Ferry, the export company set up last year by a group of Welsh farmers, said it would examine the text of the governments announcement over the weekend.