I propose to take Questions Nos. 764 and 765 together.
As the Deputy is probably aware, the European Parliament’s ANIT Committee has concluded its work and has voted on its report and recommendations. The recommendations of the ANIT Committee, if they were to be implemented in full, would be particularly challenging. This report will next be presented to a plenary session of the European Parliament in January, seeking endorsement by the Parliament.
The European Commission is currently reviewing European animal welfare legislation including the rules for the transport of animals. This review by the Commission will result in legislative proposals, which are expected in 2023.
It can be expected that the report of the ANIT Committee will feed into this review. The Commission has repeatedly said however that legislative proposals will be made on the basis of the best available scientific evidence, and it is vital that this will be the case.
My Department will continue to engage with this process to communicate the challenges that these recommendations will place on Irish farmers. Teagasc is currently engaged in research in relation to the welfare of animals being transported and the outcome of this scientific research will help to inform the debate in this area.
It is essential, however, that stakeholders in the Irish agriculture sector take note of these findings. Societal attitudes to animal welfare and the welfare of animals during transport is continually evolving.
It is important that stakeholders further advance their collaborative efforts to ensure the welfare of all animals transported, mitigate the risk of any sector being overly dependent on live exports and to continue to develop strategies that support the transition to a sustainable dairy-beef sector.
The export of animals is strictly regulated by my Department in accordance with existing EU law and the Irish system of controls is publicly acknowledged to have incorporated additional meaningful measures that ensure high standards of animal welfare on farm, and at every stage during transport.
I am committed to retaining the live export market as it is an integral part of the dairy and beef sectors and exports play a key role in driving competition.