8 June 2001
The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) has been asked to comment on proposals for 20 day standstill periods for sheep, goats and cattle issued by MAFF on 27 March 2001.
This issue attracted considerable comment at FAWC's Extraordinary Council meeting on 4 May. This meeting was convened specifically to address farm animal welfare issues arising out of the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease.
The proposals were also a topic of discussion at the Council's Open Meeting held today in Mary Sumner House, Tufton Street, London.
Judy MacArthur Clark, Chairwoman of the FAWC, said:
"Of course we acknowledge the impact that multiple movements of sheep had on the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease. However, we are very concerned that a rigid 20 day standstill, as proposed, is likely to undermine the viability of sheep husbandry systems. This has the potential to create significant welfare problems for the animals trapped within non-viable systems.
"It is clear that effective methods of individual identification of animals, particularly sheep, are essential before any system of standstill periods could be reliably implemented and enforced.
"We also believe that remarkable improvements in welfare and disease control could be gained through tighter enforcement of the existing markets and transport legislation. However, this would require additional resources.
"Overall, we are convinced that any policy of imposed standstill periods for livestock should be carefully thought through, with all the practical problems addressed in detail, to ensure that unforeseen welfare problems are not inadvertently introduced."
FAWC will comment in detail to MAFF next week.
Notes for Editors
1. The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) was established by Government in 1979 to keep under review the welfare of farm animals on agricultural land, at market, in transit, and at the place of slaughter; and to advise Agriculture Ministers of any legislative or other changes that may be necessary. This remit has been extended to include developments in the European Union.
2. Mrs Judy MacArthur Clark is a veterinary surgeon and advisor on biomedical science and ethics. She is a past-President and currently a member of the Council of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. She has been Chairwoman of FAWC since 1 January 1999.
3. All FAWC members serve in a personal capacity and do not represent any organisation with which they may be associated.
4. Copies of FAWC publications are available from:
The FAWC Secretariat
1A Page Street
London SW1P 4PQ
Tel: 020 7904 6534 Fax: 020 7904 6533