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Animals in Transport - 01/08/2006
 
VEGA comments on a DEFRA consultation on the welfare of animals in transport.
Re: The Welfare of Animals during Transport Consultation of the Implementation of EU Regulation 1/2005.

VEGA comments on a DEFRA consultation on the welfare of animals in transport, soon available from here.

We are surprised that FAWC and none of the major retailers of food and other animal-derived commodities are mentioned in your list of potential consultees. These agencies are currently engaged in labelling and claims including animal welfare and the environment. Eddie Stobart’s name should be added to the list of carriers and hauliers.

Consistency must be aimed at to ensure that best practice implied in the Animal Welfare Bill, Home Office procedures and other specialized legislation is observed. The market value of the animal in transit must not be the dominant factor in its handling and treatment. The law must protect the weak animals in very large numbers who require special attention: such are the living “waste”, by-products, co-products, and “spent” livestock destined for culling, slaughter, or used ultimately as a source of fuel. Such would be animals rejected for disposal, knackering, or fellmongering as fallen stock from food-production and breeding, racing, and for showing purposes and from zoos, circuses, and other collections. We use the word animals to mean non-human species.



SECTION 2
GUIDANCE ON THE SCOPE OF EU REGULATION 1/2005

Q.1 Is the guidance proposed on scope clear? Do you wish to recommend any changes?


With our introductory caveat the proposed scope is apt. It must assume levels of competence and licensing and supervision and enforcement higher than prevails at present. Responsibility to “ensure that animals are not caused any unnecessary fear, injury, or suffering” must be shorn of words “any unnecessary”: causing pain of any sort is “grievous bodily harm” and must be indictable, with a minimum of legalistic argument. The only allowable exemptions would be “best practice” in veterinary procedures or in rescues subsequent to accidents or results of force majeur or Acts of God in which the owner or carrier of the animals is not culpable.

Q.2 In particular, are there other exemptions that need to be highlighted in the guidance at para 2.11?

See the answer to Q1. We assume that the complete scope of the regulations covers animals moved by land, sea, and air in appropriate vehicles. In parts of Europe and elsewhere live animals may be driven to slaughter on foot or carried by hand or in sacks. Such practices must not be excluded from the proposed cover; nor should arrivals at markets or lairages in small vehicles or trailers be exempted, especially as such animals may be kept at the premises for some time and may be sold by private barter rather than going through the ring. These observations apply also to reverse journeys, e.g. for livestock arriving at slaughterhouses but sent away as too filthy to kill

The scope unreasonably excludes the transport of live (but possibly moribund) fish. They should be covered by legislation based on research on acceptable procedures.

SECTION 3
TRANSPORTER AUTHORISATIONS

Q.3 Do you agree with the proposals relating to self-declaration and checks on compliance with welfare rules from 5 January 2007? If not, what would you propose?


Self-declarations are inadequate. All handlers, owners, dealers, hauliers, and custodians of live animals must be trained and licensed by an independent authority. Anybody with an animal welfare offence or bankruptcy must be ineligible. Incontrovertible evidence of ownership and responsibility at all stages of the journeys (which include land bridging) must be assured by the best methods of traceability (which may be SatNav). The principle of “duty of care” must be translated from the Animal Welfare Bill. All agents in the business must insure their operations fittingly, with means of indemnifying “3rd parties” injured as a result of the traffic (e.g. escapes of animals).

Q.4 Do you agree with the proposals relating to vehicle approval, self-declarations and checks on compliance with welfare rules as regards GPS and contingency planning, from 5 January 2007? If not, what would you propose?

Our earlier comments cover this point.

Q.5 Is there anything you would add to the declarations?

Our earlier comments cover this point.

Q.6 Do you agree with the proposed method of handling the requirements relating to certificate of competence, between 5 January 2007 and 5 January 2008? If not, what would you propose?

We accept the provision of the proposed temporary measures.

Q.7 Do you agree that in the absence of an agreed EU wide navigation system, the UK should not recommend the use of any particular systems at this time?

The present methods of traceability must be improved until a suitable EU-approved navigation system can supplant it. Spread of microchipping procedures should be promoted to avoid injuries, blood loss, and infections associated with tagging. All incentives should be given for slaughter on-site, to lessen “meat miles”.

Q.8 Do you agree with the phased and prioritised approach to authorisations? If not, what would you propose?

The trade (and thus, ultimately, the customer), must be charged for all training, licensing, and authorization.

Q. 9 Do you have views on charging for these authorisations?
Q.10 Do you agree that authorisations should be mode of transport specific?
Q.11 Do you agree that authorisations should be issued covering all species, but that species specific or limited authorisations should be available?
Q.12 If not, how would you propose balancing proportionality of the prospect of removing an authorisation, when the offence may only relate to one species?


Authorizations should be made by load and species. Different species need different treatments and handling. Carriers may have to transfer loads for welfare reasons, e.g. breakdowns and accidents. They must also accept knock-on effects in vehicles and trailers carrying animals of more than one species.

Q.13 Do you agree with the proposal to make transporter names and authorisations 71 available to would-be consignees as suggested? If not, what would you propose and why?

Yes; and all details and records should be available, at least from authorities. The records should include details of miscarriages, e.g. on injuries and DOAs (dead on arrival). MHS records of rejections for human consumption of meat and offals yield useful information on husbandry and treatment of animals just before slaughter; therefore bruising, for instance, would indicate injury and ill treatment during journeys.

SECTION 4
ROAD VEHICLE (and CONTAINER) APPROVAL

Q.14 Do you have any information on the number of vehicles and containers that will be affected by the requirement for inspection and approval relating to the different sectors, including those outside farming (e.g. horses, zoos and the pet trade)?


No.

Q.15 Are you content with the proposal that vehicle inspection and approval be carried out by any body that can demonstrate its capability and competence to deliver through accreditation with the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS)?

Yes.

Q.16 Do you agree that, in addition to UKAS approved non-public bodies, that it is prudent also to give a statutory body such as the State Veterinary Service, the power to approve vehicles?

Yes.

Q.17 Are you content with these principles outlined in paragraph 4.14 for a vehicle approval scheme? If not, what would you propose?

Yes.

Q.18 Are you content with requirements described in paragraph 4.15 for a vehicle approval scheme?

Yes.

Q.19 Do you have any information on the costs and benefits associated with vehicle inspection and approval?

No. Apart from experience with existing haulage and prototypes we would expect useful comparisons might be drawn with the upkeep of licensed vehicles used for human transport.

Q.20 Would you like to be kept informed about the vehicle approval scheme and guidance in preparation?

Yes.

SECTION 5
DEROGATIONS AVAILABLE FOR VEHICLES ON JOURNEYS BETWEEN 8-12 HOURS

Q.21. Do you agree with the rationale for granting derogations (paragraphs 5.3 and 5.5)?


We are reluctant to agree to derogations, because we suspect that they reveal delays that should be hastened.

Q.22 Do you agree with the derogations proposed (paragraph 5.4)? If not, what evidence can you supply to refute the rationale?

We see a possible need for derogations with short and specified durations in conditions in which animal welfare could be compromised. New entrants to the EU will add to the differences in agronomies and traditional and changing farming practices (and thus of exploiting animals) that could impinge on UK dealings but at least involve the UK as a member of the EU. We are required to be an exemplar of good practice. If “new requirements are difficult to enforce effectively” much more action is needed – perhaps imposition of a ban – than a derogation and continuation of procedures that are out of control. Likewise, we jib at arguable and delaying qualifications on perception of ensuring welfare benefits (or disbenefits): the decision on welfare benefits should be just that without words such as clear that imply delay. Who is to make a decision on clarity? And who is to pay the cost of legal proceedings if the issue came to interpretations in court, which are already tricky in defining the meaning of the single word welfare?

Q.23 Do you agree with the costs assessment and consequent reduction if these derogations are granted (paragraph 5.6)? Further detail is given in the Partial Regulatory Impact Assessment at Appendix 6.

Cost and “what the market will bear” are emphasized unduly in legislation that should be open and objectively based rather than on the pressure from the merchants and their consumer accomplices in the demand – which is exceeded to the level of greed – for cheap food, unadjusted for intangible assets beyond the accountants’ calculators. The list of your consultees indicates that the animals’ voice in this consultation and others like it has been muted and that the regulations may be set in an anthropocentric self interest with inadequately appraised concerns and care for non-human animals – domestic, farmed and wild – and that the reciprocal but uncosted contributions to the Quality of Life have been overlooked. Our recent manifesto examines this matter in a constructive way to redress facile estimates of “disproportionate” welfare benefits.

Q.24 Do you support the principle that all vehicles used to transport animals over 8 hours should be inspected and approved? Note that the burden of inspection costs will fall to the transporter – this will not be a free service from Defra or its agencies.

Yes.

Q.25 Do you think there is a case for derogating from this requirement for UK journeys between 8-12 hours? And if so, why?

There is no reason for this derogation. As far as we know, all UK livestock markets and slaughterhouse lairages should have washing bays for vehicles that have brought in animals and may be taking other batches away. No impression should gain ground that the mingling of unfamiliar animals, species, noises, and accommodation, as well as the prevailing stress and distress, are not apt conditions for the spread of infection, injury, and diseases, some zoonotic.

Q.26 Are there particular industry sectors affected that should be granted a derogation as opposed to others? By way of example, poultry/birds, horses/ponies, cats and dogs, zoo/performing animals. And if so, which ones and why?

Vehicles should be designed for purpose or multipurpose. This would require strict observance of the usual identifications of ownership, roadworthiness, and loading, as well as a manifest covering the purposes and details of their contemporaneous assignment. For birds, containers and carriers must be assessed: we think small and young birds in ventilated boxes may still be transported as parcel post by road or rail; and poultry and small animals may be transported from livestock markets in boxes (which have to be provided by the RSPCA in some cases) to the purchaser’s premises, e.g. a restaurant for killing there. These are practices which redoubled supervision, which may exceed the competence of local authorities. The status of equines causes blurring of the interpretations within the EU and makes great differences in their handling and treatment. This should not apply. The care taken of horses for racing, breeding, and stud purposes should be bestowed on all equines within the EU or transported from the ports, for whatever purpose they are destined.

Q.27 Do you think derogations (or the current requirements) will pose any difficulties in terms of enforcement?

Yes. A national and well-trained veterinary service on the lines of the SVS and Meat Hygiene Service should take over all the duties. Local authorities are likely to lack the competence and power to police and enforce the regulations and to take wrongdoers to court. NGOs such as RSPCA and Zoocheck should be given appropriate powers of entry in the spirit of the provisions in the Animal Welfare Bill. Provision of water, feed, rest and space is especially important for young animals on long journeys, when prevention of dehydration and appropriate sources of water at the right temperature and electrolytes or milk substitutes are essential. Regulations on temperature may need revision in the light of experiences gained from transshipments of sheep from Australia to the Middle East. The roofs of vehicles and buildings used in the transport of livestock should be covered with reflective paint, such as is available in the appropriate merchants.

Q.28 What welfare benefits will ensue from approval?

These are indicated in other answers.

Q.29 Do you support or oppose any further derogations available (outlined in the table in Section 5.8)? If so, what evidence can you supply to support your argument?

No, but see answer to question 28 etc

SECTION 6
TRAVEL DOCUMENTATION & SEA TRANSPORT

Q.30 Do you agree the retention period for ATCs should remain and unchanged? If not, what would you suggest and why?


The retention period should be at least a year, to allow time for normal assessment and administration.

Q.31 Do you agree that Animal Movement Licences should be amended to include journey duration?

Yes.

Q.32 Do you agree with the proposal to require the keeper checks the transporters documentation? If not, why not – and what would you propose instead?

Yes.

Q.33 Do you think the proposal relating to adding information on records retention & office checks is helpful? If not, why not and what would you add?

Yes.

Q.34. Do you agree that as far as practicable the current route plan procedure should be retained following the introduction of Journey Logs? In particular, the 10 day notification period? If not, why not & what would you propose?

Yes, and yes.

SECTION 7
TRAINING & COMPETENCE CERTIFICATION OF DRIVERS OF LIVESTOCK VEHICLES & ATTENDANTS

Q.35 Do you agree that satisfactory certification of the competence of transporters and attendants is best achieved by offering both the above options? If not, what would you prefer to see in place?


Accreditation and supervision must be raised to a much higher level than at present, especially as foreign drivers and vehicles are likely to be involved in the transportation. We agree with the options referred to in the question, but note that the precautions must be secured from subversion by the activities of “pirates” and dubious gangmasters. A theory test alone is inadequate: loading and unloading can play a major part of short journeys and these are times when stockmanship is likely to be tested. Candidates for accreditation should satisfy examiners with a driving test (in both contexts), as well as demonstrating an equable temperament and way with animals in what should display the competence and confidence (in spoken and written English) to match the exacting demands.

SECTION 8
CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS, INCLUDING REVOCATION AND RETENTION OF NATIONAL WELFARE RULES

Q.36 Are you content with what we propose in terms of consolidation and revocation?


Yes.

Q.37 Do you agree that we should retain parts of WATO that are relevant to journeys not covered by the EU Regulation?

Yes.

SECTION 9
ENFORCEMENT, OFFENCES, PENALTIES AND APPEALS

Q. 38 Do you agree with the way forward outlined for enforcement? If not what additional measures would you like to see and why?


Yes. Our earlier comments have dwelt on enforcement measures.

Q.39 Are there any issues of concern should a system based on the above be introduced? If so, please specify.
Q.40. Do you agree that no appeal mechanism is required for vehicle approval?


We approve of the new procedures, with reservations over the abandonment of appeals procedures.

SECTION 10
GUIDANCE AND PUBLICITY ARRANGEMENTS

Q.41 We wish to provide guidance that can be easily used. How can the new guidance be best structured?
Q.42 Can you suggest alternative or additional distribution routes? Are there other Government Departments or Defra Agencies that you have contact with?
Q.43 Do you have any evidence contrary to the Farm Practices Survey to suggest that a significant proportion of Farmers would find the over 8 – hour leaflet helpful?
Q.44 For the non-farmed sectors, can you suggest any alternative approaches to get the message across to your members?
Q.45 What type of guidance would you find particularly helpful?


The regulations can be presented practicably in an attractive form. We shall post the questions and answers for this consultation on our website and we shall use the information in our dealings with other NGOs and with agents, producers, and retailers who have to meet enquiries from the public. We are also involved in relevant discussions with the FAWC. The appendices contain very useful information.

Q.46 Are there additional publicity mechanisms we should use? What support can your organisation offer?

A summary including the new rules should be offered to all the potential consultees on your list and to the addresses you propose. It should also be sent to several appropriate departments in the major retail outlets.



We have not continued our comments into the very useful detail offered in the appendices, except to use Section 5 of Appendix 6 (pp57 et seq, Sectors and groups affected) to emphasize some of our earlier observations. Para 5.24 states the “need to balance welfare benefits against cost and ease of compliance / enforcement”. An animal behaviorist or sociologist can only say that your proposals to increase the competence in the care, handling, and transport of animals an to raise the standing in the public’s perception of the various trades and vocations in the food chain will come at a cost measured at the price of goods in the shop, unless – and with reservations – we entertain subsidization, which not only shields the consumer from the facts (which s/he “doesn’t want to know”, as your commentary indicates) but may also hamper enterprise in improvements, replacements, and alternatives; or, in the Home Office terms with regard to experimentation on animals, effective application of the 3Rs – Reduction, Refinement, and Replacement. We follow up this principle in our recommendations for
a New Kinder Farming.

Such actions deserve education, making the facts available in more training on the food chain in final comprehensive courses on citizenship for school leavers, who will become well-versed consumers interacting with the enterprise and resource of lively producers. This could be a suitable function for the Food Standards Agency. This knowledge carries over into the full implications of claims and labeling and of the commercial influences of agricultural development on animals of all species. Food miles are a factor of seasonality, whether included in comparisons of Red Tractor mutton of many transhumances with New Zealand lamb traveling many meat miles.

The general consumer’s appreciation of Animal Welfare as a Public Good is flawed by false confidence in free range poultry production as an indicator. Huge flocks of excitable hens kept on free-range are no better indicator than trucked cattle or ducks out of water of the wellbeing of any species out of its element. Handling and interacting with other animals demands levels of skills and patience whether it’s a party of schoolchildren, a wagonload of monkeys, or a collection of spent hens on their way to the biofuel plant. “They’re going for slaughter, anyway” is the refrain we animal welfarists often hear when we try to improve the lot of animals on the “journey down the road”.

Therefore we endorse strongly all efforts at increasing a Public Aware of the Animals’ Good, with comprehensive applications of the five freedoms and claims, labelling, and scoring based on them. Movements of animals must be accomplished in conditions far surpassing the transfer of fresh fruit from producers in Scotland to consumers in the south of England, having regard particularly to control of temperature and atmosphere and of design of container and care in loading and packing.
 
 
 

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