Fine Gael MEP Colm Markey has urged colleagues in the European Parliament to reject proposals to effectively ban the transport of calves, saying it will lead to serious animal welfare issues on farms in Ireland and across the EU. The measures were put forward by the Greens and will be voted on in the European Parliament tomorrow (Thursday, January 20th).
The proposals include a complete ban on the transport of unweaned animals under 35 days, a maximum journey time of two hours for unweaned animals over 35 days and a ban on the transport of pregnant animals in the last third of gestation.
Speaking from Strasbourg, Colm Markey said, “These measures were proposed by those who don’t understand farming and are completely unworkable. Keeping calves on farms for five weeks or moving them after two hours to holding centres would result in serious backlogs and the spread of disease. Dairy farmers don’t have the infrastructure or capacity to manage any surplus and would be put under enormous pressure. Ironically, the proposals – which were put forward ‘in the interest of animal welfare’ – are actually bad for animal welfare and must be rejected.”
The Midlands-North-West MEP said he would be supporting amendments to the recommendations in plenary tomorrow.
“I will be voting in favour of the amendments put forward by the EPP Group which reduces the age at which calves can’t be transported back to four weeks, except in the case of transport carried out by farmers for a distance of less than 50km. The second amendment sates that the transport of pregnant animals in the last third of gestation should be restricted to a maximum of four hours. These were the original compromises agreed at Committee level before the alternatives were rushed through by the Greens by one vote. I addressed my colleagues in the EPP Group on this issue this week and urged them to support the amendments, which are sensible and practical.
“This forms part of a wider report following 18 months of work by the Animal Transport Committee which was set up to investigate alleged breached of the rules. I fully support a range of measures to get tough with the laggards in other member states through stricter enforcement and better use of technology such as CCTV, GPS tracking, temperature monitoring, wearable technologies and data collection. I also support the requirement to have vets on boats during sea journeys and inspections of all consignments to non-EU countries.
“Ireland’s track record on animal welfare during transport was widely praised during the Committee hearings and we shouldn’t have to suffer if others are flouting the law” MEP Markey concluded.