Do you agree with the FAWC recommendations for future research and the Scottish Government’s position and proposed course of action? Please provide any further relevant information.
The Scottish Government considers that evidence and research findings should be shared where possible to help build the knowledge base and to inform sound policy making and implementation decisions.
We support the continued development of knowledge, understanding and the science base, noting that funding is subject to the consideration of other priorities, and we wish improved regulations to be based on the latest science and wider evidence. In taking this forward we agree that FAWC’s specific technical recommendations relating to data collection should be taken into account.
Of the 319 responses to this question, 56.4% were in favour of the Scottish Government’s position and proposed course of action. 30.1% were not in favour and 13.5% did not express a view.
Those replying in favour of the Scottish Government proposals portrayed general support for the use of research to “improve our knowledge base” (Nourish Scotland) and that existing knowledge gaps could be prioritised to improve animal welfare; and that legislative change “should always be based on the latest science and industry based evidence” (unnamed organisation). There was also support for wider sharing of research output and “the use of good science and evidence to drive policy” (NFU Scotland).
Quality Meat Scotland highlighted that an independent evidence base could assist policy interventions and that “funding should be prioritised for this purpose”. Other respondents, whilst noting the Scottish Government’s view that “funding is subject to the consideration of other priorities”, asked it to recognise the impact of “current intensive food production systems have on the wellbeing of animals” (Humane Society International UK) to demonstrate support for increasing, and sharing, knowledge.
QMS also suggested that research should be holistic and consider welfare of animals during transport, the welfare of the same animals if transport was restricted, and also on the economic and environmental impacts of restricted transport. It was also commented that research should “take account of the economic importance of livestock production in remote and island communities”(NFU Scotland) and on any impact change may have to those local economies.
Organisations from both animal welfare and farmers’ representative sector suggested that research “should ideally be “species-specific and subgroup-specific” (Animal Aid) and on how different species and classes of animals respond to transport conditions.
Enforcement bodies suggested that recommendations from research projects “should be shared and discussed with industry and enforcers” (Aberdeenshire Council) to consider feasibility and enforceability.
The Abattoir Sector Group agreed with FAWC’s recommendation around the “availability of abattoirs around the points of production” and suggested that should include a survey of the services required by farmers to inform the siting of abattoir services.
There was some discussion in responses on who should conduct research, with many favouring “independent research” with the inclusion of information from all sectors – with the animal welfare sector, and transport and livestock industries mentioned in particular.
Scotland’s Rural College noted that the welfare of animals in transport is not constrained to the UK and that “mechanisms to allow UK scientists to participate in EU and other projects” could be both beneficial and cost-effective.
One veterinary organisation questioned the “definitive recommendations” contained in the FAWC Opinion when “FAWC acknowledge there is a lack of objective scientific evidence for reviewing animal welfare during transport”(Northvet Veterinary Group Ltd) .