The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has said that the recommendations from the Committee of inquiry on animal transport (ANIT) in the European Parliament regarding animal welfare during transport, have the potential to severely impact the competitive trade in Ireland.

A report by ANIT has called for several new restrictions on the transport of certain categories of animals, including (but not limited to): A ban on the transport of calves under five weeks-of-age; a two-hour limit on travel times for unweaned calves above that age; and a ban on the transport of in-calf cows in the third trimester.

IFA Livestock Committee chairperson, Brendan Golden said this approach is not acceptable and must be rejected by Irish MEPs when voted on in the European Parliament.

He said the unique island status of Ireland must also be recognised in any proposals in order to ensure Irish farmers continue to have unfettered access to the EU single market.

“Irish farmers support and implement the highest welfare standards in the world and this includes the strictly controlled transport of animals. Seeking to change the rules because other countries fail to implement them, is not acceptable,” Golden said.

“These proposals could be voted on next week. Our MEPs must ensure they are rejected and that the original compromise amendments are tabled and supported,” he added.

He said the IFA is directly involved at EU level through Copa and with farm organisations from other member states in an effort to have the recommendations rejected.

‘No science’ in animal welfare proposals

The IFA claims that the recommendations are based on the outcome of poor enforcement of regulatory requirements in some regions of the EU.

The association said that rather than focusing on better implementation, the ANIT committee has put forward recommendations “without scientific basis that penalise farmers in Ireland” who implement transport measures that are equivalent to, or superior, to the existing requirements.


Golden said these recommendations “serve to remove competition” from the sale of animals and create the potential for welfare issues by prohibiting transport of unweaned animals under 35 days of age, and transport for unweaned calves over 35 days to a maximum of two hours.

The livestock chairman said the recommendation to prohibit the transport of in-calf animals within the last third of gestation will effectively change the landscape for farmers and marts in the sales of breeding females.

“Farmers have taken huge strides in raising the genetic profile of the breeding herd, providing efficiencies that will contribute to meeting our climate targets,” Golden said.

“A critical component in raising the genetic merit of our breeding herds for farmers is the purchase of higher index replacement heifers. Suckler farmers in particular seek out the very best heifers in specialist sales of in-calf heifers, these proposals will prohibit the sale of animals within three months of calving,” he concluded.