Extreme urban-based MEPs do not understand that there are a lot of negative animal welfare implications within new EU animal transport proposals, according to Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association (ICSA) president Dermot Kelleher.
All Irish MEPs need to "pull out all the stops" to reject the proposed new measures set to be debated and decided upon in Strasbourg next week, says the ICSA.
Kelleher said the proposals, which could see a ban on the export of unweaned calves below 35 days of age, would be an “unmitigated disaster” for Ireland.
The proposals passed a vote at a meeting of the EU Committee of Inquiry into the Protection of Animals During Transport (ANIT) last month.
If passed by the full European Parliament, they could also see a ban on the transport of animals in the third trimester of pregnancy and a two-hour time limit on the transport of unweaned animals over 35 days.
Kelleher said: “This is an extreme position, which, quite frankly, is a disaster for Ireland. I am calling on all our MEPs to use their positions to get this over-the-top position rolled back. Ireland is dependent on live exports and this will be the end of exports of dairy calves.
“It is also absurd to suggest that any transport of cows in-calf within three months of calving should be banned. .
"Many cows and in-calf heifers are sold in the final trimester for all sorts of reasons, such as herd dispersal, reducing numbers where the farmer doesn’t have sufficient accommodation or feed or due simply to economic necessity.”
The Cork suckler farmer warned that “these rules are being dreamed up by those who do not understand livestock farming”.
He called on Irish MEPs to seek a more measured but pro-animal welfare policy.
“Extreme urban-based MEPs do not understand that there are a lot of negative animal welfare implications in what is proposed. This set of proposals will have huge negative economic implications.
“Ireland, as a livestock island, is especially vulnerable. Farmers need as many markets as possible and we need the competition that live exports provide.”