THE WHISPER from Westminster is that Defra is to quickly press ahead with plans to ban the transport of long-haul live animals and more specifically to those shipped to the continent, and to Southern Ireland.

It's well-known that Boris Johnston has been championing this, going as far as saying it on live television recently that long stints of animal transport is cruel and against animal welfare – assertions that are well wide of the mark. All export certified trucks catering for this trade are of excellent design, well-maintained, with forced air ventilation and well up to the task of moving, feeding and watering their cargo in all conditions.

This is very much a banana skin for the Tory Government's aspirations to 'do well for farmers' and has the potential to rock many of the party's supporters in the farming industry if not qualified and quantified properly.

It could be a total disaster for the livestock industry in Scotland, if handled wrongly and raises the spectre of the outer islands (and some of the Inner Hebrides) being deemed too far away from its end users.

Crucially, the words 'long-distance' seem to be creeping into the dialogue more and more. The fact is, the transport of live animals from England to end users in France, Belgium or Holland can be undertaken more quickly than those from Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides. Even some of the more remote mainland areas or those islands with easy access, could fall foul of misguided legislation.

At the moment, the EU rubber stamps the freedom of movement of live animals between member states. But that will only persist until (it is expected) the end of 2020, given we are leaving the EU – which means this legislation may be active by 2021.

The Scottish Government has long opposed this sop to the bleeding hearts of the uninformed, recognising the value of the stratified industry that is a feature of the Scottish landscape, shaping as it does the environment, communities and, indeed, infrastructure which includes tourism.

Should this legislation on 'long haul transport' be pushed through, we must seek caveats and derogations which will allow for the free movement of livestock from within our own country at the very least. And that should include Northern Ireland and exemption for breeding animals.


Being more consumer facing is the target for QMS, it stated this week at a Parliamentary reception in Holyrood. And it needs to be.

It faces an uphill task to counter, debunk and re-energise the consuming public that meat is actually good for you. The vast majority still support meat eating, that's a given, but increasingly there are some naively believing the downright lies being peddled by the anti-meat brigade.

It will need substantial money to be able to afford to do that. Some huge business is backing the manufacturing of alternative 'meat' products and to beat that, organisations, like QMS need ammunition.

The industry will have to face up to the fact that it has underfunded its promotional bodies and cough up. A repatriation of the levies that go south with Scotland's animals would be one small step!

For there is no future in turning up at a battle with a pea-shooter.