Farming: Union hits out at  new proposals for transport of livestock

NFU Scotland has come out all guns blazing in its response to two major consultations on animal transport.

Sheep being transported
Sheep being transported

The union yesterday said that with many of the proposals put forward in the documents proving to be highly contentious – and given the vital role that transport plays in Scotland’s livestock industry – it was deeply critical of procedures included in both the Defra and Scottish Government consultations which closed this week.

Across the country the topic has been one of the most talked-about issues in farming circles, with most feeling that the proposals could damage the sustainability of livestock enterprises on many of Scotland’s island and more remote regions.

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The Defra consultation, which related to journeys in (or partly in) England and Wales proposed a ban on the live export of stock for further finishing or slaughter and restrictions on journey length and conditions, including outside temperature during transport, headroom and stocking density.

The Scottish consultation looked specifically at the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) report into animal transport and its recommendations.

Expressing his anger at the proposals, union president Martin Kennedy said: “The ability to transport livestock safely throughout the UK is fundamental to the Scottish livestock industry and opposition to the deeply flawed proposals in these consultations has galvanised the whole Scottish livestock sector.

“Regrettably, the driver behind much of this was a FAWC report that was, in our opinion, poorly written and simplistic in approach and shows no appreciation or understanding of livestock production across all parts of the UK.

Kennedy said that the union had worked closely with a wide range of UK and Scottish stakeholders on these consultations: “Hundreds of members attended NFU Scotland webinars on this subject and all members were encouraged to respond directly to these damaging proposals.

“The importance of transport to livestock producers on Scotland’s islands and in more remote areas is paramount and members from those regions were quickest to voice their concerns.”

Regardless of whether journeys were made by land or sea, Kennedy said Scotland enjoys an excellent track record in ensuring all animal health and welfare requirements in transit are met and requirements around the likes of journey times, rest periods, stocking densities, vehicle standards, vehicle certification and driver competence has been well policed and adhered to in Scotland for more than 15 years to good effect.

“To ensure the best possible welfare outcomes, the FAWC report would have been better to focus on fitness of animals to travel and development of best practice guidance, rather than focusing on the length of journey or the external temperature at the time of transport.”

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Kennedy said that with no evidence to suggest that they would benefit animal welfare, the proposed changes to journeys based on duration and weather conditions would cause serious delays and disruption, potentially damaging welfare outcomes.

He added: “Proposed changes to vehicle requirements would add significant costs and lead to many more journeys being made, increasing greenhouse gas emissions which work against both farming’s and the government’s net zero targets.”



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