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Opinion: Science should decide Parliament’s position on animal transport regulations

ICMSA leader, Pat McCormack, outlines why he believes science should decide Parliament’s position on animal transport regulations.

It is vital that any decisions taken concerning animal transport legislation have a strong scientific basis and are not based on pre-defined political views.

I hope the EU Parliament will accept amendments Billy Kelleher, MEP, put forward.

Farmers accept and support the need for strong animal welfare legislation. But, that welfare has to be based on science.

What we will not accept is people with pre-defined views on animal welfare that owe more to cartoons than hard data and who have little or no understanding of how proposed legislation will seriously and negatively impact on farmers.

Importance of live exports

Animal transport is hugely regulated at present. The Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine is stringent and very active on compliance.

Our live exporters have invested heavily in state-of-the-art facilities with a strong emphasis on animal welfare and operate very professional businesses to a high standard.

As an island, live exports are hugely important to Irish farmers.

They play a central role in providing competition for cattle. That’s why Ireland must insist that any legislation references science and not a vague sentiment.

The vote in the EU Parliament will not impact live exports in 2022 or 2023.

Animal transport regulations

However, there is a legitimate long-term worry that we could have legislation foisted on us that would impact not only live exports, but also the movement of animals within Ireland.

We could see restrictions placed on us that make little sense; that could undermine animal welfare rather than improve it.

Ireland has a strong record on animal welfare. Live exports and the actions of a few in other EU countries should not lead to unfair regulation being imposed on Ireland.

Cattle can be traded safely within defined regulations. This should be the EU’s objective when these regulations are reviewed.

I call on Irish MEPS to support the proposed amendments and ensure that reasonable proposals come forward from the EU Parliament rather than a pre-defined and non-scientific position.

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