The UK's agricultural minister Jim Paice will have the chance to support shorter times for live animal transport in the EU in a meeting next week.
The issue is on the table for a meeting of the 27 member states' farming ministers on Monday 14th May and we are urging the UK government to support calls for a maximum eight-hour limit across the EU for journeys to slaughter.
The European Parliament recently issued a written declaration calling for an eight-hour limit following an EU-wide campaign that Compassion was a part of. The campaign saw more than 1 million people sign the 8hours.eu petition.
Read on to find out what else you can do to support our campaign against long distance transport.
Current laws not good enough
At the moment, EU laws allow different species to be transported for different amounts of time. These laws let transporters carry calves as young as two-weeks old for 19 hours - nine hours, a one hour 'rest' where the animals don't even have to be unloaded, then another nine hours. After 24 hours rest off the truck, the whole process can be repeated ad infinitum.
This is far too long for animals whose immune systems are not fully developed - the trials of the journey can leave them more susceptible to disease.
A recent European Commission report on live animal transport recommended current rules should be better enforced.
We agree, our investigations into live animal transport show the current rules are often not being properly enforced. For example, a recent Compassion investigation into the transport of sheep to Greece from other EU countries found animals:
- standing and lying on floors soaking with animal waste;
- being trampled by others in trucks that gave them insufficient headroom;
- with no access to water on at least part of their journey, which lasted around 26 hours;
- with their limbs hanging out of the side of trucks due to overcrowding.
But even without transporters breaking the law, current journey times are way too long to guarantee good welfare for the animals being transported.
What can you do?
You can help show Jim Paice how strongly people in the UK care about the welfare of animals during transport by adapting and sending the email below calling for an eight hour limit to all live animal transport in the EU. Send your email to: email@example.com
Dear Jim Paice MP
I am writing to you ahead of the meeting of the Council of Ministers on the 14th May to ask you to support calls for a maximum one-off limit of 8 hours to be placed on the transport of live animals to slaughter.
Over 6 million animals are transported on very long journeys each year in the EU for further fattening or slaughter. Long journeys such as these often entail poor welfare and therefore a maximum journey time should be introduced on the transport of animals for further fattening or slaughter. The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe states that "Animals should be reared as close as possible to the premises on which they are born and slaughtered as close as possible to the point of production".
I am aware that over the last few months, the EU Council of Ministers has been discussing the Commission Report on the impact of Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport. The Council is due to adopt Conclusions in May. I urge the UK to take the lead in persuading our EU partners to recognize in the Conclusions that Regulation 1/2005 does need to be revised, in particular to include a short maximum limit on journeys for fattening or slaughter.
On 15 March 2012 the European Parliament adopted with the signatures of 395 MEPs Written Declaration 49/2011 which calls for the introduction of an 8 hour limit on the transport of animals to slaughter. Over 1 million citizens have signed the 8 hour EU petition.
I urge you to support this call for a maximum one-off journey limit of 8 hours at the forthcoming meeting.