Letter: Uncertain future of exported sheep

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your article 'Shephard gives in to animal lobby' (21 June) may give readers the impression that the lack of agreement by the Council of Ministers will in some way improve the welfare of animals. The absence of a Community regulation concerning the conditions under which animals are transported will result in national standards being applied at varying levels throughout the EU in respect of journey times and resting periods.

The British Association of Sheep Exporters has a strict code of practice which is obligatory on all members. During the last year great efforts have been made to create a better understanding by traders on the Continent of the need for a Community regulation that controlled feeds, water, resting and travelling times. The compromise before the ministers on Tuesday would have achieved this first objective.

Research had been commissioned by the European Commission into transportation and resting times, also handling, loading and unloading arrangements which actually cause more stress than transportation. When this work is completed, the regulation can then be amended if necessary.

Farmers and traders treat the welfare of their animals as an absolute priority and co-operate fully in areas of research, recognising that to be meaningful, regulations need to have a scientific basis. Campaigns designed to appeal to emotion and to pitch readers against those who are doing their best to improve the handling and transport of animals do nothing to progress either regulations, a better understanding, or the animals' welfare.

Yours faithfully,

DAVID PARKER

Executive Chairman

British Association of Sheep Exporters

Crawley, West Sussex

21 June

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