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Disappointment as eight-hour travel limit remains a possibility

SNP MEP Alyn Smith has expressed disappointment at the European Parliament's decision this week to approve a resolution calling for a reconsideration of limiting animal journey times to eight hours.

The non-legislative report by Polish MEP Janusz Wojciechowski "on the protection of animals during transport", technically classed as a "motion for a European Parliament Resolution", was fed through the Parliament's Agriculture and Rural Development Committee.

The report recommends the EU Commission enforces existing animal transport regulation of journey times, number of journeys, transport conditions, environmental and social costs of transport.

Although MEPs rejected an outright limit of eight-hour journey times for animals going to slaughter, they did recommend the EU Commission reconsider transport times overall.

The EC has said it does not intend to revisit animal transport legislation, choosing to reinforce implementation of the current rules.

Mr Smith, who voted against the report, said: "Scotland's farmers will be disappointed to hear that the attempt to put in place an eight-hour limit has still not been entirely killed off, although, to be honest, I don't expect the Commission to take much notice of such a weak demand hedged by caveats about the need to put science first. Commissioner Borg made it clear in the debate that eight hours is not on his agenda."

NFU Scotland's animal health and welfare policy manager, Penny Johnson, said: "Reassuringly, the EU Commission have previously noted they see no reason to look again at animal transport regulations and any welfare problems that arise from poor enforcement of the existing rules."

Market round-up

The Cumberland and Dumfriesshire Farmers Mart had 20 prime cattle forward in Dumfries on Wednesday, when bullocks sold to 233.5p per kg and averaged 210p, while heifers peaked at 230.5p and levelled at 222.9p.

There were 60 OTM cattle presented in the rough ring when cows averaged 97.3p.

The firm had 1564 prime lambs at its Christmas show and sale when the championship was awarded to Mr B Ryder, Newton Cottage for a pair of Beltex that scaled 43kg each and sold for £140 per head, or 318p per kg. The overall average levelled at 145.2p.

There were also 259 cast sheep forward with heavy ewes selling to £84.50 for Texels and averaging £64.50, while light ewes peaked at £47.50 for Blackfaces and levelled at £38.50.

United Auctions sold 337 store bullocks at Stirling on Wednesday to a top of 218.2p per kg and an average of 192.8p (-0.7p on the week), while 245 store heifers peaked at 215.5p and levelled at 192.5p (-1.3p). Sixty-three young bulls sold to 218.1p and averaged 190.3p.

In the rough ring 217 cast cows averaged 113.7p.

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