High standards of care should pay dividends
GOOD husbandry should pay extra dividends for North Devon's farmers through the European Union's welfare laws.
Members of the European Parliament have recognised the high standard of animal care in countries like Britain and are recommending that farm gate prices reflect it.
Their views are in a new report on treatment of farm animals across Europe.
NFU vice-president Adam Quinney said: "The European Commission now has a clear mandate to enforce current legislation on animal welfare.
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"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.
"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 the vote."
The report also calls for new measures to ensure the increased cost of implementing higher animal welfare standards is reflected in the farm gate price.
Mr 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, but this has to be reflected in the price consumers are willing to pay otherwise our farmers will be simply pushed out of business.
"Likewise, there will be no net animal welfare gain if we adopt high standards in Europe only for our producers to be undercut by cheaper, lower welfare imports from elsewhere.
"We need animal welfare commitments right along the food chain to make a real difference."