Michael Gove has been given the chance to see for himself arrangements for shipping live animals south to Aberdeen.
Farming representatives say they want the rural affairs secretary to see “first-hand” the “excellent standards of animal welfare” associated with the shipment of cattle from Shetland to Aberdeen.
Earlier this month, the UK government said it wanted to consult on banning live animal exports for slaughter as part of its Brexit plans.
However, farmers in the isles say the proposals could have a serious impact on the sector locally.
NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said: “Livestock welfare is a top priority for Scottish livestock farmers and we appreciate that live animal transport is an emotive issue for many.
“The safe transport of animals around Scotland is an intrinsic part of our livestock industry and animal welfare is taken very seriously both for the reputation and quality of Scottish produce.
“Indeed, the assurance schemes under which the vast majority of livestock products are produced extend across the life of the animal, ensuring welfare is protected throughout the whole chain including transport.
“In our response to Westminster’s call for evidence, we will demonstrate how high standards for animal movement – whether set by the EU, assurance schemes or through industry collaboration – are already adhered to.
“The cassette system that is operated by Serco NorthLink Ferries traveling from the Northern Isles to Aberdeen is an excellent example of transport from the Scottish islands where welfare of stock is at the forefront – from loading, to shipping, to unloading.
“Having seen the system in operation, I am convinced that it is an example of best practice in the movement of animals which we would be delighted to have an opportunity to show to the Secretary of State and his officials.”
Also signing the letter of invite to Mr Gove was Kris Bevan, freight manager at Serco NorthLink Ferries.
Mr Bevan added: “The cassette system operated by Serco NorthLink Ferries travelling from the Northern Isles to Aberdeen ensures the welfare of animals travelling by ferry.
“In a process developed jointly by industry and ferry operators, animals are moved on assured vehicles that are properly secured to the ferry in specially designed containers.”
• See the full story in The Shetland Times, out on Friday.