Fianna Fáil MEP, Billy Kelleher, has described today’s vote on the Animal Transport Committee’s recommendations as a “decisive victory for common sense”.
MEPs voted on proposals the parliament’s Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during Transport (ANIT) brought forward.
The ANIT brought forward the following:
- A ban on the transport of pregnant animals in the last third of gestation;
- Time limits of two hours for unweaned animals older than 35 days;
- A ban on all transport of all calves under 35 days.
However, Kelleher tabled the following amendments:
- Transport unweaned animals for a distance of fewer than 50 km;
- Restrict the transport of pregnant animals in the last third of gestation to a maximum of four hours.
Animal transport vote
He said that the Parliament carried both compromises that he proposed on the issues of pregnant and unweaned animals as highlighted above.
Furthermore, he confirmed that a “very concerning” amendment attempting to limit journey times to eight hours was also defeated.
MEPs also voted to reduce the minimum age of transport of unweaned calves to 28 days.
Speaking this afternoon (Thursday, January 20th), following the vote, he said:
“Today, common sense prevailed. From the very outset, I set out clearly that it is possible to have high animal transport standards and allow the continuation of ordinary farm life across Europe.”
“MEPs from across all political groupings realised that taking an extremist view on this issue would not make good policy.”
Over the last number of weeks, Kelleher said he “worked hard” to bring MEPs with him on this issue by:
- Appealing to reason and to logic;
- The idea that rural communities and farm families must be supported;
- And that this belief can co-exist with high animal welfare standards.”
Concluding, he said: “I do hope now that when the Commission makes its proposal for a new regulation, it will take into account the very clear view of the parliament that we can be ambitious and yet realistic,” concluded the MEP.
The IFA has welcomed the “key amendments” on animal transport, but said that there is “more work to be done”.
IFA president, Tim Cullinan, said today’s vote “goes some way towards safeguarding competition in the cattle trade”.
Its livestock chairman, Brendan Golden, believes the recommendations had the potential to “severely impact” this country’s “competitive” trade.
He pointed out that this included the movements of in-calf animals, which is a “key” trade for farmers and marts.
He said that Irish farmers support and implement the highest welfare standards in the world and this includes the “strictly” controlled transport of animals.