UK animal welfare practices need to become ‘more proactive, progressive and adaptable’

In a webinar jointly hosted by Food and Farming Futures and Edinburgh University last month, more than 50 experts, vets, scientists and industry influencers from all four nations of the UK came together, calling for higher UK-wide animal health and safety standards.

The consensus agreed by those in attendance acknowledged 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.

They also recognised the need for each of the four countries to continue to have their own differentiated ‘brand identity’.

“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,” chairman of Food and Farming Futures, Lord Curry of Kirkharle urged during the webinar.

The steps they outlined in order to raise standards were as follows:

  • 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 advanced so as to become effective 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

Edinburgh University’s Prof Geoff Simm also said that the UK needs to become more proactive, progressive and adaptable: “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.”

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