Travel Rules Ease Animal Suffering
Nicholas Schoon Environment Correspondent, The Independent (London, England)
New rules aimed at curbing the suffering of farm animals exported alive for slaughter were introduced by the Government yesterday.
But Jack Cunningham, the Agriculture Minister, said Britain would be seeking a special opt-out for pedigree pigs, which already travel in relatively luxurious conditions.
The new rules, which come into force on 1 July, implement a 1995 European Union directive on the transport of live animals six months late. Half of the union's member states failed to meet the legal deadline for implementing the directive through their own laws. But the European Commission has also broken a deadline for implementing the law, which animal welfare groups had long campaigned for. It is more than a year late in producing detailed specifications for lorries which carry farm animals for more than eight hours. In the absence of these specifications, Britain will continue with its own 22-year-old vehicle standards for live animal transport. The UK's new regulations lay down maximum journey and rest times for animals and give ministers new powers to disqualify carriers who seriously or persistently break welfare regulations. Young farm animals can travel for nine hours before a minimum rest period off the vehicle of one hour, followed by a further nine hours' travel. Adult cattle and sheep can travel for 14 hours before a minimum rest of one hour, followed by a further 14 hours' travel. All staff involved in journeys longer than eight hours will have to have training in looking after farm animals and understanding their condition. …