Press release

Review needed of livestock transport

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Rules surrounding transportation must be based on existing and emerging scientific evidence so as to reduce the stress that long journeys may cause animals.

Agriculture Minister Jim Paice today called on the European Commission to look at the rules surrounding transport of livestock, especially journey times, and to ensure existing rules are in line with the available scientific evidence.

We would like to see livestock slaughtered as close as possible to where they are farmed, but if animals are to be transported, the rules surrounding transportation must be based on existing and emerging scientific evidence so as to reduce the stress that long journeys may cause animals.

At the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg Jim Paice made the following statement:

“The UK agrees with the EU Commission that the number one priority is better enforcement of the existing legislation on welfare during transport, across the EU. However, in addition, it would like to see a review of long journey rules to take account of existing and emerging scientific evidence, including that highlighted by the recent EFSA report, particularly in relation to revising the journey time down to a maximum of 12 hours for horses going to slaughter.

“We also wish to see discussion on greater protection for infant livestock, particularly calves, taking into account the Commission’s own written guidance on the treatment of unweaned calves on long journeys and considering the very long distances some unweaned calves have to travel, which can involve multiple cycles of 19 hour journeys.

“We believe it is important that the rules should be updated where there is sufficient evidence to support such change. We note that the recent EFSA report does not include any recommendation suggesting that all major species of livestock going to slaughter should face the same maximum journey length in all cases.”

The statement came after the agreement of a set of EU Council conclusions on the new EU animal welfare strategy and the EU Commission’s report on its review of welfare during transport rules, which while positive, fell short of suggesting that in the immediate future the Commission should review the existing rules on long journeys.  The Government thinks the rules should be looked at in the light of the scientific evidence since the legislation was introduced in 2007, and which has been reviewed by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/1966.htm