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Hope at last for UK Bison Farmers, says MEP

Bison Farmers across the UK are now one step closer to solving a number of difficulties they had been facing with UK and EU legislation.


Emma McClarkin MEP and George Wakeling at Bouverie Lodge

Bison Farmers across the UK are now one step closer to solving a number of difficulties they had been facing with UK and EU legislation thanks to Conservative MEP Emma McClarkin.

The issue facing Bison farmers was first brought to Miss McClarkin’s attention by Leicestershire bison farmers, George and Ruth Wakeling, of Bouverie Lodge, who contacted her to discuss the problems that were arising through the EU defining bison as bovine animals despite the radically different behaviour and animal welfare implications.

On Tuesday in London, Miss McClarkin organised a meeting for the Wakelings with several key people involved in the bison issue including DEFRA Minister George Eustice, Sherwood MP Mark Spencer MP and NFU representatives to try to broker a solution.

At the meeting, discussions of new technology and electronic ear tagging found consensus as a potential solution to the problem of tracking the animals. Moreover, the Food Standards Agency were equally open to talks of minimising the travel and transportation costs of moving bison for processing.

Speaking today, Miss McClarkin said:

‘After two years we finally have some clarity on the flexibility available to Bison farmers within UK and EU regulation. This is an area, that much to my surprise; the EU does not want to have to legislate in and has therefore left room for interpretation by member states.

“What today’s meeting achieved was a realisation and understanding of the difficulties that Bison farmers face in a country that is susceptible to Bovine TB and with animals that are highly sensitive to handling. However, we also found solutions and practical suggestions that both the farmers, DEFRA and the FSA could work together on.

Farmer George Wakeling said:

“We are extremely grateful for the huge efforts that Emma has put in, to enable us to meet the DEFRA minister George Eustice and relevant heads of departments, in order that we could discuss our problems of regulations affecting the Bison industry. We came away from the meeting, feeling more positive and hopeful that doors are now open for discussion and that we may move forward in our quest to farm these wonderful animals. Without any doubt, we would not have achieved any of this without Emma’s ability and determination.”

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