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Brexit – what’s the future for animal health? Part 4

22 November 2017

MINI SERIES part 4 – Opportunities: securing our future. Julie Girling MEP, Nick von Westenholz, Professor Janet Bainbridge and Professor Julie Fitzpatrick discuss the opportunities for innovation, trade, food production, and animal health and welfare in the animal health sector.

Opportunities: securing our future

NOAH Session 3Julie Girling, MEP, South West England and Gibraltar, began the final session of the day by addressing the use of Brexit as a chance to improve the UK’s status across the animal health sector. Girling spoke of the need for striving for better in the UK:

I keep hearing the phrase: ‘at least maintain animal welfare standards’ and people thinking that maintenance is going to be an achievement.

How will we then deliver the perceived benefits of Brexit?

It’s only useful if we get something out of it…that we’re not currently getting out of our relationship with the EU.

I don’t mean to be downbeat - I think there are opportunities, but I think we need to look beyond the obvious to find added value issues. What I’d like to see is the government making real effort in industries to find added value of leaving the EU.

Nick von Westenholz, Director of EU Exit and International Trade for NFU, followed primarily with a brief discussion on some of the trade barriers that may face UK farmers post-exit. Trade tariffs and even non-tariff barriers could be highly costly to producers and traders looking to export from the UK, should a no-deal, hard-Brexit arise. The EU Trade Deal is therefore critical in its potential to provide a zero-tariff or low-tariff deal for trade with EU member states.

Nick went on to discuss domestic agricultural policy:

The Treasury has guaranteed funding into agriculture until 2019 and, indeed, the Conservative manifesto has promised to maintain this until the end of the current Parliament.

He highlighted three key areas that future policy needs to address:

  1. Managing volatility in the sector – reducing drastic price fluctuation.
  2. Environment – rewards for environmental stewardship/services and animal health and welfare. Two-tiered scheme.
  3. Productivity – an opportunity to maximise our output. Research and development; improving skills, training and knowledge exchange; improving advisory services; increasing financial capacity; maintaining/increasing investment in technology.

Professor Janet Bainbridge, CEO for Bioeconomy, Department of International Trade, spoke more on how Bioeconomy can help with new opportunities for international trade. She pointed out the need for proactivity in making sure that the issues we are most concerned about are heard at the highest level:

Within much bigger sectors, individuals need to shout very loudly to make their voice heard. I am delighted to see that businesses and organisations across the animal health sector are coming together to do that, and be heard.

She went on to describe the work of the Business Energy Industrial Strategy (BEIS) which leads multi-disciplinary teams in developing the government policy landscape, and works with other government departments on trade and investment strategy within the Bioeconomy. BEIS also works with industry leadership teams such as the Agrifood Technology Council, the Synthetic Biology Leadership Council, the Industrial Biotech Leadership Forum, the Chemical Growths Partnership, and the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership. She explained how the Bioeconomy is currently developing its sector deal, under which animal medicines also sits.

Bainbridge then focussed on case studies for how we expect to manage certain scenarios post-Brexit; the AHDB Brexit Impact Assessment Report, for example, looked at the perceived impacts of three potential scenarios for animal health:

Our top performing farms are going to remain profitable under the various proposed scenarios.
How are they going to do that? They are going to adapt, they’re going to be resilient and they’re going to respond to change.

To respond to change in that way, you require confidence which comes from knowledge, skills and from being proactive.

Labour and skills development is going to be critical in our response to change.

Professor Julie Fitzpatrick, Scientific Director of the Moredun Research Institute, concluded the speeches from the panel by looking at the future sustainable production research topics. These included, sustainable intensification; immunostimulants and bioactive peptides; multiplex diagnostic, antigen and pen-side testing; biosecurity and decision support tools; and general water quality and safety. She stressed the importance in taking a holistic, one-health approach to vaccine development and regulating antimicrobial use, and supporting research and development with EU colleagues.

The day’s proceedings concluded with the second NOAH Brexit Barometer, the results of which will be published by NOAH in the coming weeks.

 

To read the full article, click here

 

The Pig Site Editor

 



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