THE EUROPEAN Parliament has called for current legislation on animal welfare to be better enforced.
MEPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the report an EU Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 20122015 in Strasbourg this week.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) welcomed the vote, and supported plans for the added cost of animal welfare measures to be reflected in farmgate prices.
NFU vice president Adam Quinney said the European Commission now had a clear mandate to enforce current legislation on animal welfare 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.
Quinney argued that 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 todays vote, he added.
The MEP report also calls for new measures to ensure the increased cost of implementing higher animal welfare standards is reflected in the farmgate price.
Quinney 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. However, this has to be reflected in the price consumers are willing to pay otherwise our farmers will be simply pushed out of business, he said.
He also warned that higher standards and prices in Europe can lead to cheaper, lower welfare imports. This has created problems for suppliers of eggs. Plans are in place, however, to ensure similar problems dont occur in pork following new EU regulations.