Cattle transport will be limited, with calves under one month banned from being transported. After that, the time spent in transportation will not be allowed to exceed two hours. This means that Corzem residents will not be able to transport calves from Latgale and vice versa.
Animals in the last stages of pregnancy will not be allowed to be transported and animals to be slaughtered will not be allowed to be transported for more than eight hours
This decision was taken by the European Parliament to vote on amendments to the rules for the transportation of animals. This decision caused great shock among farmers throughout Europe.
Industry experts explain how this will affect farmers in Latvia.
“Any legislative changes should focus primarily on animal protection, but should also be scientifically and practically justified,” says Livestock Expert Farmers Saima (ZSA) Raymonds Yakovikis. Nowadays, all kinds of technological solutions exist to help improve the quality of transportation and animal welfare in transportation. Before making this decision, it made sense to make an assessment of the social and economic impact of this decision, because these proposals should be based on facts, not emotions.
“We export live animals to and from the European Union. We also import breeding animals. These modifications will especially affect organic farms, because 80% of our meat is produced organically. We export about 60,000 heads and import more than 2,000 animals annually. This is why transporting them is an integral part of livestock production and trade,” notes Yakovikis.
“Both animal buyers and keepers are concerned with making sure that the animals are treated well during transit.”
The expert says current regulations provide high standards for the care of animals and vehicles used to transport animals. “Last-minute additions to the various categories of animals prohibited for transport could severely affect the transport of animals in Latvia and EU member states, which would have a negative impact on export markets.”
“In Latvia almost all young calves are exported to Lithuania, Israel, Poland and the Netherlands as early as the 14th day,” says ZSA board member Caspars Adams. In 2023, this will not be possible and farmers will have to keep the calves until they reach 35 days of age.”
“Dairy farmers have a year to prepare their infrastructure to be able to keep the calves for longer.”
“The cows are not exported – they remain on the farm to breed. Exports of pregnant cattle are not important at the moment in Latvia. That is why these changes will not have much effect. As for the eight-hour lead time for transportation of cattle for slaughter, these cattle are mostly transported to Lithuania and Poland. If these countries’ markets become inaccessible, local slaughterhouses will have no competitors, leaving farmers with no way to influence prices, Adams says.
Mežacīruļi plantation owner Juris Cīrulis: «I think that the high officials of the European government have been seized by a kind of ‘reform fever’, because the changes continue one by one. There was nothing wrong with how things had been so far. It made sense to increase control over the existing system. With the new changes, farmers are the ones who lose most. Only people who work to create new rules and laws, and to imitate work to keep their comfortable seats, will benefit from it.”
ZSA adds: “Because the recommendations from the European Parliament will need to be reviewed by the European Commission, we hope that these people will be more realistic. We hope that the European Commission will take into account the impact assessment and ask the European Food Safety Authority to carry out a scientific evaluation of the proposed animal transport improvements, and not focus only on the time it takes to transport the animals. »