New Initiatives Launched As Government Announces Outline Animal Health And Welfare Strategy

UK - Sixteen new initiatives have been unveiled today as part of an outline Animal Health and Welfare Strategy for Great Britain.
calendar icon 16 July 2003
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Launching the strategy, Animal Health and Welfare Minister, Ben Bradshaw said:

"Twenty years ago, the UK had a reputation for the highest standards of farm animal health and welfare anywhere in the world.

"The BSE and FMD episodes have tarnished that reputation.

"This strategy gives us a chance to restore our name; it is the first comprehensive, coherent strategy of its kind, pulling together the work of Government and the leading organisations in the field.

"CAP reform is an ideal platform for improving standards and allows for a new beginning which can benefit not only farmers and their animals but also consumers, the environment and the rural economy."

Among the initiatives are a commitment to identify the costs and benefits of higher standards of animal health and welfare, identification of international and domestic best practice and the creation of disease profile to help assess, prioritise and resolve animal health and welfare problems.

The new initiatives follow a major consultation exercise this Spring after the Government launched its AHWS scoping document in January. Since then, there have been a series of regional events with local stakeholders in England, Scotland and Wales along with a number of key meetings with different sectors of the livestock and veterinary industries.

The Outline Strategy deals mainly with farm livestock health and welfare The final Strategy, to be published next Spring, will deal more fully with horses, dogs and other pets, minor livestock species, wildlife and fish.

Mr Bradshaw stressed that it was a strategy for the whole animal health and welfare community, but one that could not be taken in isolation.

"It needs to fit in with, and take forward strategies to support a sustainable livestock sector. There are also links to public health, food safety and sustainable development policies. And it needs to be able to adapt to new circumstances, such as the changes to the Common Agricultural Policy, finalised in Luxembourg last month.

"There are many challenges ahead. The health and welfare of farmed animals makes a major contribution to the sustainability of the livestock sector, and therefore to wider farming and food, and also to the countryside, rural communities and the rural economy. Profitability is essential if the livestock sector is to be sustainable,"

"The strategy contains a vision of the future that I hope all stakeholders can support. We have set down for the first time the key principles that will guide Government decision making. Also the essential roles and responsibilities of Government and the stakeholder community in maintaining and improving on high standards of animal health and welfare"

"Indeed, the theme of the strategy is that keeping animals is a privilege not a right, animal keepers must meet their responsibilities as set out in the strategy. If they can not fulfil their obligations, sanctions may have to be considered, including the possibility of licensing or permits for farm livestock".

To read the full report in PDF format, click here (386Kb)

Source: DEFRA - 16th July 2003

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