Farming: MEPs reject eight-hour journey limit
The European Parliament’s agricultural committee has rejected calls for an eight-hour journey time limit for animals destined for slaughter.
In confused voting on a non-legislative report on animal transport, the committee accepted that proposals to impose an eight-hour limit had no basis in science.
More than a million people have signed a petition demanding the limit but the committee backed the view of the European Food Standards Agency that animal welfare depends more on the vehicle, space allowances, access to food and water, and handling during loading and unloading. The decision has been welcomed by Scottish MEPs George Lyon and Alyn Smith, who is a member of the committee.
“I am pleased that the committee decided to strongly back the science-based approach to this contentious issue,” said Lyon. “It would have been easy to cave in to the well-meaning but flawed view that somehow limiting travel time to eight hours was a panacea to eliminate the problems with animal transport.”
Lyon welcomed the committee’s support for the view that more enforcement of existing laws is required rather than new legislation. “The way to improve animal welfare during transport is to crack down on those individuals and those countries where the current laws are being flouted,” he said.
“I’m disappointed that the eight-hour issue has hijacked some important animal welfare issues which the report highlights,” said Smith. “I remain convinced that a blanket ban on all journeys of over eight hours is not the correct response. It would make livestock production in remote parts of Europe difficult if not impossible.”
He had voted against the report with a “heavy heart” and hoped the plenary session would straighten the mess out.
“My colleagues on the committee have chosen to move this debate away from the key issues of enforcement and improved technology towards a lightning rod issue which may win headlines but won’t do anything practical,” he said.
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