The president of the British Veterinary Association, Peter Jones, has stressed the need for the veterinary profession to be involved in decisions about the future of veterinary surveillance and Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) in Wales at the association’s annual Welsh dinner.
In his address, given under the theme of vets adding value’, Mr Jones (pictured) also reiterated the profession’s support for a ban on non-stun slaughter and highlighted the need for animal welfare plans at livestock shows.
Tackling veterinary surveillance, he said it was far from ideal to have to review veterinary surveillance capabilities at a time when budgets needed to be cut.
“It’s a huge challenge for all four administrations of the UK right now,” he added. “The BVA has been involved in responding to the Surveillance 2014 project both in Wales and in England, and our message is clear; any changes to our surveillance system must be driven by improvements to delivery mechanisms and not simply a cost-cutting measure.
“Surveillance systems must also embrace veterinary practitioners. The farmer, private vet, laboratory vet triad is the cornerstone of early detection. The number of new disease challenges to the livestock sector in recent years has been unprecedented – Schmallenberg, bluetongue, bleeding calf syndrome, and the return of bovine psoroptic mange are just some examples.”
Mr Jones called on Welsh Government to involve the veterinary profession in decisions about the future of the AHVLA.
“As the role of AHVLA post-2015 is being reviewed in Wales, we want – and need – to be a part of that conversation,” he said. “Our members working in AHVLA, as well as our members in private practice, are best placed to input into those decisions from the frontline.”
On welfare at slaughter, Mr Jones reminded the Welsh Government of its commitment to animal welfare.
“Ultimately, the BVA wants to see all animals stunned before slaughter,” he said. “But we were very grateful to your predecessor, Minister, for his commitment to look at this issue from an animal welfare point of view.
“We appreciate Welsh Government’s consideration of ways in which meat from non-stunned slaughter could be restricted to those communities for which it is intended and ways in which the welfare harm could be reduced, through post-cut stunning and mandatory veterinary presence, and we look forward to hearing how these plans are progressing.”
On the eve of the Royal Welsh Show, Mr Jones also highlighted a new initiative on welfare at livestock shows.
“As we approach the Royal Welsh Show, I’m delighted to promote the new livestock show welfare plan that has been drawn up by the Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations with input from BVA,” he said. “The welfare plan again encourages added value from the show vet by ensuring that show organisers have taken all appropriate steps to safeguard the welfare of animals at the event.
“Our shows are the shop window for our industry and so we must use them to demonstrate both the good health and good welfare standards that Welsh and British livestock embodies.”