Reasons to be cheerful in 2017, despite the challenges we face

Happy New Year! I’ve started 2017 in a positive frame of mind.

Last year was very challenging, but I know we had a positive impact on many fronts, so confidence is high that we will take this year’s challenges head-on. I already know what some of them will be, so thought I would share…

Just before Christmas, a veterinary committee advising the EU Commission on product authorisations, decided, seemingly out of the blue, to recommend that a particular product containing zinc oxide should not be re-authorised, citing concerns about environmental pollution and antimicrobial resistance.

What was more baffling was that the VMD, with which we have enjoyed a much better relationship with of late, were on this committee and never mentioned it. It wasn’t even on the radar of COPA, the EU farmers’ organisation we rely on to alert us when issues arise.

However, since that thunderbolt, we have seen a most impressive mobilisation of expertise, from the feed industry, vets, pharmaceutical companies and all the representative bodies, working with NPA to put forward a united position and lobby for more time to provide evidence as to why we think taking zinc oxide out of piglet feed will be a really, really bad idea. The NPA has been coordinating with other affected countries and galvanized COPA into action. We’ll keep you posted.

Defra chose to ignore most of the concerns we raised in the non-bovine TB ‘consultation’. I was wondering if they’d even received our response, until we finally got a mention at the end.

Disappointingly, Defra chose to ignore most of the concerns we raised in the non-bovine TB ‘consultation’. I was wondering if they’d even received our response, until we finally got a mention at the end. All they managed was to copy the Scots’ compensation values, which was I suppose, better than what they initially proposed, but the categories are a little odd – sucklers up to 25kg? Maybe for wild boar… Some of us have been banging our heads against the wall on this issue for a while now, but I am not giving up. This has become a point of principle and we still need a clear plan and an exit strategy for affected units.

If you thought it had all gone quiet on the animal rights front, think again. Not only are the Pig Save groups multiplying like vermin, our friends at Compassion are at it again, out with their begging bowls, raising money to produce a map of UK ‘factory farms’. Trumpeting how they will be able to show you exactly where factory farms exist near you. They even, more cheekily, ask farmers to contact them to prove that they have ‘higher welfare’ indoor systems, as they acknowledge it is hard to see from the outside exactly what sort of operation it is!

Not only do they completely ignore the fact that we have no such thing as a factory farm in the UK and fail to define what they really mean. They also appear disinterested in the massive impact this could have on local businesses and provide clear targets for animal rights groups!

Again, we have plans afoot, so watch this space…

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