NFU welcomes EU animal welfare resolution

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has welcomed the European Parliament’s calls for stricter enforcement of existing animal welfare legislation.

MEPs passed a resolution on the EU’s ‘Strategy for the protection and welfare of animals 2012-2015’ in Strasbourg last week.

The resolution states that existing animal welfare rules should be enforced more strictly by member states, with proper penalties introduced when rules are breached. It also proposes the creation of a single EU-wide animal welfare law to improve compliance across Europe, with an  “early intervention” system to enable the European Commission to check at intervals whether member states can meet the implementation deadlines for new legislation.

NFU vice-president Adam Quinney said the European Commission now had a “clear mandate” to enforce current legislation before introducing new regulations.

“Take journey times as an example. Some MEPs called for an eight-hour limit on the duration of transport of farmed animals. But we believe restricting journey times to an arbitrary eight hours has no scientific basis and does not guarantee improvements in animal welfare. It is the management of a journey that provides the greatest protection for animal welfare, not the length of it. A short journey, poorly managed and not adhering to EU laws will threaten the welfare of the animals much more than a well-managed – and legal – longer journey. We are glad this was reflected in today’s vote,” he said.

Quinney also welcomed the proposal for new measures to ensure that the cost of implementing higher animal welfare standards is reflected in the farmgate price.

He said: “UK livestock farmers are some of the most welfare-conscious in the world and are more than willing to continue working towards higher-welfare achievements, but this has to be reflected in the price consumers are willing to pay, otherwise our farmers will be simply pushed out of business.

The non-legislative resolution was drafted in response to the European Commission’s publication of the EU Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012–2015 in January this year. The Commission is expected to table an EU-wide framework law on animal welfare next year.

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