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NFUS President Meets Commission Head of Welfare

NFU Scotland President, Nigel Miller, and Alyn Smith MEP met with the Head of the Commission’s Animal Welfare Unit, Mr Andrea Gavinelli in Brussels today (Friday 14 October) to tackle upcoming animal welfare issues.

Top of the agenda was a discussion on the Welfare of Laying Hens Directive, which requires that, after 1 January 2012, conventional laying cages be eliminated from production systems.

The upcoming animal transport report, and the impending ban on pig stalls are tethers were also tackled in the wide-ranging meeting.

Speaking from Brussels, NFU Scotland President, Nigel Miller said:

“Today’s meeting was a good opportunity to speak directly with the Commission about a number of areas that are of concern to our members.

“ First up was the ban on conventional laying cages. At a cost of millions, the Scottish egg industry expects to meet the January 2012 deadline, but there is a well documented expectation that not all Member States will be compliant.

“The Commission confirmed that early next year they are planning to action some Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) visits to the Member States where compliance has not been delivered, where they will use existing data to target Member States that are most likely to be non-compliant. If the evidence demonstrates that systems fail to meet the new welfare standards there is a commitment from the Commission to drive infraction proceedings. While these proceedings would take a year to complete, this is the one tool they have that they can deliver on, but there is no fast track route available.

“Today’s meeting did flag up an interesting option around tracing non-compliant egg production. There is a salmonella contingency plan in place throughout Europe, and the Commissioner believes the same tracing system used for disease tracing can be adapted to track non-compliant producers in this case. The Commission believes this gives a robust marker to ensure non-compliant product is controlled.  This auditing check in the system can be used as part of FVO compliance visits.

“A fall back position to this is a specific article that does allow Member States to exclude non-compliant product, where it has the potential to undermine the sustainability of a Member State’s own high welfare production.  To the best of our knowledge this hasn’t been used before, so its new territory, but it is there to be used if the current Commission Roadmap for tackling the issue fails. We are now investigating this article’s potential through our colleagues in Brussels. 

“Of course the pigs sector will be facing similar challenges in a years’ time with the upcoming EU ban on pig stalls and tethers. Over the last few days, the Commission has been taking evidence from Chief Veterinary Officers from various Member States to assess progress. There are also plans to engage with stakeholders in early 2012 to lay down the milestones required to maximize compliance of this new legislation. The Commission has made a commitment to learn from the issues that have been thrown up by the transition to enriched cages.

“A further issue discussed in today’s meeting was the report on Animal Transport, which has been slightly delayed, but is due to come into the public domain in the first half of November. The report is likely to highlight welfare issues generally related to failure to adhere to the regulatory standards, and at this stage it appears that changes to the regulation are unlikely, which is good news for Scottish producers.

“The main focus will likely be on enforcement, sharing intelligence and utilising systems such as satellite tracking to ensure shortcuts aren’t being taken. Having met with the Commissioner twice on this issue we are optimistic that changes to journey times, which could create real problems for Scottish producers, are now not a central part of the agenda.”

Ends

Contact Wendy Fleming on 0131 472 4020

Date Published:

News Article No.: 165/11


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