EU call for limit on livestock transport times

By Keith Nuthall

- Last updated on GMT

EU call for limit on livestock transport times

Related tags European union Beef Lamb Livestock Pork

A formal call for the European Commission to propose eight-hour journey-time limits for livestock being carried across the European Union (EU) has been made at the European Parliament.

Its agriculture committee approved a report requesting Commission action on Friday. The EU currently has no such limits and the committee vice-chair, Polish MEP Janusz Wojciechowski, said later that animals suffer during 24- or even 30-hour-long journeys.

He added that “more and more”​ pigs, cattle, sheep, goats and horses were being driven long distances to slaughter, with the continuing closure of small local abattoirs across the EU. Wojciechowski said such trips meant animals “suffer”​ and made it “difficult to ensure [good] conditions for animals and hard to carry out detailed checks”.​ He added longer journeys added costs to meat production and these were passed on to consumers.

The report recommending legislation, drafted by the Commission, will be debated by the full parliament in September. Under EU rules, the Commission would have to seriously consider such a proposal and give good reasons if it refused to act.

The committee noted that under the most recent available EU-wide figures, between 2005 and 2009, the number of livestock being transported increased especially sharply for pigs – by 70%. There were smaller increases for cattle (8%); and sheep (3%), while there was actually a decrease of 17% for horses.

And its report attacked the Commission over its “weak and ineffectual system of monitoring compliance”​ regarding current EU standards via regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport.

As a result, it proposed creating “specialised monitoring institutes”​ in all EU member states, checking animal welfare standards were being followed, including during transport.

On journey times, the committee did allow for some flexibility, saying laws should allow longer than eight-hour trips where farms were particularly remote and also where scientific studies proved that certain species could be comfortable.

Overall, however, the report concluded: “The transport of meat and other animal products is technically easier and financially more rational than the transport of live animals; whereas the transport of animals over significant distances increases the risk of transmission of animal and human diseases.”

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