2020-10-16 facebooktwitterrss

Higher UK-Wide Animal Health and Welfare Standards Needed

More than 50 experts, vets, scientists and industry influencers from all four nations of the UK came together in a webinar jointly hosted by Food and Farming Futures and Edinburgh University last month.

The webinar delivered a significant new step, with an agreement by the key industry bodies and influencers to raise animal health and welfare standards across the UK. This consensus acknowledges that a shared UK position on higher animal health and welfare standards would deliver a clearer and more market compelling position, as well as raise the collective global leadership and influence of the devolved four nations. It recognises too that each of those countries will continue to have their own differentiated ‘brand identity’.

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To deliver on this endeavour to raise UK standards requires a collective push across all four countries from all bodies that influence assurance, livestock health, welfare and trade, urged chairman of Food and Farming Futures, Lord Curry of Kirkharle: “Brexit offers the UK a golden opportunity to shape a world-leading aspiration but we have to urgently identify, and address our shortcomings, in this endeavour otherwise we remain vulnerable to challenge.”

The current global position of the UK on animal health, welfare and productivity has slipped behind other countries. Yet all three are critical for the industry to compete at home and abroad. Sentient Laws for Denmark, Sweden and France put them ahead of the UK on animal welfare (Animal Protection Index) and the Scandinavian countries also lead on animal health.

Each of the four nations is successfully addressing some endemic diseases, but to recover its top status the UK needs to collectively address disease challenges and welfare improvements to be globally competitive - and raise productivity.

The UK needs to be more proactive, progressive and adaptable, says Edinburgh University’s Prof Geoff Simm: “It’s important for the science, vet and farming communities across all four nations to come together on this – and devise action plans that can raise UK-wide standards of endemic disease control.”

The report urges the following organisations to take action:

• Animal Health and Welfare delivery groups across all four countries (supported by the whole industry) to facilitate the framework and detail on UK-wide animal health and welfare standards.

• Surveillance systems are robust in keeping out exotic diseases.

• Assurance Bodies from all four devolved countries to collectively endorse and embed the minimum standards in their schemes.

• The vet and farming community devise a co-ordinated four nations plan and effort to address endemic diseases such as BVD, Johnes disease, parasites, and responsible use of antibiotics etc.

• Government Schemes across all four countries (eg ELMS in England) should to be shaped to incentivise (or penalise) producers who are committed to this common goal of delivering UK-wide higher standards of welfare and animal health.

Farming & Food Futures

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