Verburg breaks word: controls on animal transports will not be strengthened, but weakened

13 September 2007

Verburg breaks word: controls on animal transports will not be strengthened, but weakened

Under pressure from a majority of Members of Parliament, Agriculture Minister Gerda Verburg has withdrawn recently announced measures to counter the horrifying abuses to which farm animals are subjected during transport. The minister had reportedly lost all trust in the sector following revelations of a whole series of abuses, but this evening she opted to withdraw her proposals, leaving the sector itself responsible for monitoring animal welfare. This is despite the fact that those responsible for the transport of farm animals have already demonstrated that they are unwilling to take the structural steps necessary if the problem is to be tackled effectively.

Commenting on the move, SP Member of Parliament and spokeswoman on animal welfare Krista van Velzen said that "The minister put on a great show with her announcement of new measures, but withdrew these at the first sign of opposition, even before any MP had tabled a resolution against them.”

The point at which abuses surrounding the transport of cattle could be treated as isolated incidents has long been passed. Cattle trucks are almost never subject to checks at the point of departure, despite this being required by the relevant European directive. Verburg agreed that the sector had, through the level of abuses uncovered, shown that it was incapable of policing itself. That was why she intended to introduce an oblicgation that every truck be checked by a vetenarian before departure, and not merely as a paper exercise as is now chiefly the case. It turned out yesterday evening that the two main governing parties, the Christian Democrats (CDA) and Labour (PvdA), as well as the centre-right opposition grouping the VVD, found this unacceptable. The result was that Verburg immediately withdrew her proposed measures.

“Verburg has shown that as a minister she is both spineless and lacking conviction," Van Velzen said.. "The least resistance from parliament and she backs down. This doesn't augur at all well for the future. That the VVD and CDA are happy to carry on trusting the sector to police itself is no surprise, but in joining the right in opposing this attempt to protect animals from unnecessary suffering the Labour Party has also now shown its true colours."

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