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Critical role of vets recognised in new report on post Brexit trade in food

In its report ‘Brexit: Trade in Food’, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee has called on the Government to support the veterinary workforce to ensure it can meet the needs of the UK’s food industry post-Brexit. 

BVA submitted written evidence to the EFRA Committee inquiry, leading up to the report, in October 2017 and is pleased to see that many of the priorities BVA highlighted are captured in the report’s recommendations. 

British Veterinary Association President John Fishwick said:

“We welcome the strong message this report conveys on the need to maintain the UK’s high animal welfare, environmental and food standards in trade as we leave the EU. It is reassuring to see that animal welfare is high on the agenda for future negotiations around trade in food and that the vital role of vets in upholding these standards is fully recognised by the EFRA Committee.

“It is encouraging to see mandatory labelling on method of production in the report’s recommendations and we hope that this will include clear labelling on the method of slaughter so consumers can make an informed choice about eating meat and meat products from stun or non-stun sources. 

“We look forward to seeing how these recommendations are taken forward by the Government to ensure that the veterinary workforce is fully supported and the UK has the capacity to meet the challenges that Brexit may pose in trade in food.”

Upholding the UK’s high animal welfare, environmental and food standards as we leave the EU was a major concern of the EFRA Committee and the report stated that the Committee would hold the Secretary of State to his assurances that there will be no compromise in these standards post Brexit. 

The evidence provided by BVA on the central role of vets in the certification process for exports and imports of animals and animal products has been fully recognised in the ‘Brexit: Trade in Food’ report, alongside the possibility that this could increase by 325% post Brexit if the UK is treated as a third country.  The report has also acknowledged the high number of Official Veterinarians from the EU that work in the UK, stating that non-British EU vets are critical to the UK veterinary workforce and the Government must set out how it intends to ensure working rights for non-British EU vets currently working in the UK.

The introduction of mandatory method of production labelling was also amongst the EFRA Committee’s recommendations to ensure consumers are fully informed about the food they are consuming.

The full EFRA Committee report ‘Brexit: Trade in Food’ can be accessed from https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmenvfru/348/34801.htm

BVA’s full response to the EFRA Committee inquiry into the impact on the UK’s trade in food after Brexit is available at www.bva.co.uk/news-campaigns-and-policy/consultations/consultation-responses/