Recommendations for new EU animal transport measures must be rejected in a likely vote by the full European Parliament next week, according to IFA livestock chair Brendan Golden.

Golden said the proposals from the Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during Transport (ANIT) have the potential to severely impact the competitive trade in this country.

He said the proposed approach is not acceptable and called on Irish MEPs to vote against the measures.

Island status

Golden said the unique island status of Ireland must also be recognised in any proposals in order to ensure Irish farmers continue to have unfettered access to the single market.

“Irish farmers support and implement the highest welfare standards in the world and this includes the strictly controlled transport of animals.

“Seeking to change the rules because other countries fail to implement them is not acceptable.”

He said the IFA is directly involved at EU level with farm organisations from other member states in a combined effort to have the “unnecessary recommendations” rejected.

Poor enforcement

Golden outlined how, in his view, the recommendations are based on the “outcome of poor enforcement of regulatory requirements in some regions of the EU”.

“Rather than focusing on better implementation, the [ANIT] committee has put forward recommendations without scientific basis that penalise farmers in Ireland who implement transport measures that are equivalent to, or superior, to the existing requirements.”

Breeding females

Golden also said the recommendation to prohibit the transport of in-calf animals within the last third of gestation will “effectively change the landscape for farmers and marts in the sales of breeding females”.

Suckler farmers in particular seek out the very best heifers in specialist sales of in-calf heifers

“Farmers have taken huge strides in raising the genetic profile of the breeding herd, providing efficiencies that will contribute to meeting our climate targets.

“A critical component in raising the genetic merit of our breeding herds for farmers is the purchase of higher index replacement heifers.

“Suckler farmers in particular seek out the very best heifers in specialist sales of in-calf heifers. These proposals will prohibit the sale of animals within three months of calving.”