ShapeShapeauthorShapecrossShapeShapeShapeGrouphamburgerhomeGroupmagnifyShapeShapeShapeShape

Vets must remain guardians of animal health in post-Brexit agri policy

Earlier this year the government’s recognition of animal health and welfare as public goods was considered a victory and welcomed in BVA’s response to Defra’s consultation paper on the future for food, farming and the environment in a Green Brexit. However, more detail is needed on the schemes that will see these public goods incentivised.

BVA has recommended the use of an animal welfare stewardship programme to financially support animal welfare as a public good, alongside further development of farm assurance schemes and a modernisation of the UK’s disease surveillance networks.

BVA has welcomed the government’s proposals to pilot schemes that offer payments to those farmers who deliver welfare outcomes that are higher than the legislative minimum and to introduce schemes that reward new approaches to improve welfare outcomes that are not industry standard.

More detail is needed on how these proposals could be realised and BVA has recommended an animal welfare stewardship programme to incentivise progress.

The programme would be based on the principles of environmental stewardship schemes, which reward land management practices that benefit the environment. It would compensate for the additional costs of improving animal welfare outcomes, alongside providing incentives to support continuing and long-term investment into these activities.

Any scheme that aims to improve animal welfare requires monitoring, and BVA believes that placing evidence-based animal welfare outcome safeguards at the centre will allow this to be done in a way that facilitates continuous improvement.

In its response to the consultation paper, BVA supports the government’s proposal to provide clear information to consumers on ways to support higher health and welfare through their purchasing choices.

BVA encourages the uptake of farm assurance schemes to allow citizens to make informed choices about the food products they buy and the impact of these products on animal health.

Farm assurance schemes have already made important inroads into identifying measurable animal welfare outcomes and this could help provide an infrastructure for the development of animal welfare stewardship programmes.

BVA has developed seven principles with the aim of guiding consumers in their consideration of farm assurance schemes and helping to ensure that animal health and welfare standards are further embedded in schemes as they develop post-Brexit.

The UK’s withdrawal from the EU has implications for biosecurity and disease surveillance in the UK, providing a good opportunity to modernise our animal health and disease monitoring networks. BVA welcomes the government’s suggestion for greater collaboration to develop a clear action plan to tackle endemic disease and drive up animal health standards.

The veterinary profession plays a crucial role in monitoring disease and preventing outbreaks. As well as maintaining current scanning surveillance networks, BVA has called for new approaches to data collection, rethinking traditional approaches to funding and better education to increase awareness around the benefits of reporting to the veterinary profession.