October 31, 2003

 

 

Bleak Outlook for Livestock Production in Scotland If Proposed EU Animal Transport Rules Are Enacted
 

Prospects for livestock production in the Highlands and Islands, in Scotland, are bleak if proposed EU animal transport rules are enacted in their present situation, according to a report.

 

Cutting journey times to a maximum of nine hours, followed by a 12-hour rest period, could cost primary producers in the Highlands and Islands area 1.65m sterling pound, says the study.

 

The existing maximum journey time is 14-hours followed by one hour's rest.

 

The report was commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and a coalition of other organisations and prepared by the Scottish Agriculture College.

 

The conclusion states that unless major changes to the proposed regulations are executed, the livestock sector in the area will continue to decline.

 

The shortened journey times, coupled with extended rest periods were two of the major problems identified.

 

Others include changes in definition of time at market, lower stocking densities on vehicles and the introduction of training certificates for people transporting livestock.

 

Abattoir provision in Scotland for sheep is low, resulting in significant numbers of the region's store and finished lambs currently being marketed in England or Wales.

 

This leads to journey times which often exceed the nine-hour limit in the new proposal.

 

The report says that a limited survey of hauliers in the area suggests that some will stop transporting animals if further investment is needed to meet the proposed regulations.

 

Those who planned to stay in business would be forced to increase charges to farmers to cover the extra costs.

 

The proposals could also lead to a collapse in the livestock market sector in the Highlands and Islands, the report says.

 

Conservative estimates are that the region's marts would have to spend between 105,000 and 150,000 sterling pound to meet the new regulations.

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