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Animal health: Chief Veterinary Officer's Annual Report - 2003

by 5m Editor
17 June 2004, at 12:00am

UK - Defra has today published The Report of the Chief Veterinary Officer - Animal Health 2003. This annual report looks back over developments in animal health and welfare in Great Britain during the last calendar year, and provides a repository of factual information enabling readers to make comparisons and monitor progress over successive years.

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The report highlights progress in developing a comprehensive and sustainable Animal Health and Welfare Strategy for Great Britain, due for launch on June 24. Responding to key recommendations from the Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food, and from the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Lessons Learned Inquiry, the strategy has been developed in partnership with industry and the Devolved Administrations to set out a 10-year national strategy and delivery plan for animal health and welfare.

Other major activities for Defra and the Devolved Administrations in 2003 were:

  • Launch of outline Animal Health and Welfare Strategy;
  • Launch of Veterinary Surveillance Strategy;
  • Discussions with the EU to put UK controls on the same footing as those in the rest of the EU following the continued decline in the BSE epidemic;
  • Reducing the backlog of overdue bovine TB tests;
  • Working with key stakeholders to develop a TB Strategy;
  • Suspending the reactive element of the randomised badger culling trial;
  • Reducing the 20-day standstill period on animal movements imposed during the FMD epidemic in 2001 to six days in England and Wales and 13 in Scotland;
  • Monitoring and extending surveillance of brucellosis following outbreaks in Scotland;
  • Consulting with industry regarding control measures for avian influenza following an outbreak in mainland Europe;
  • Increased surveillance for European Bat Lyssavirus;
  • Transferring responsibility for illegal meat imports to Her Majesty's Customs and Excise; and
  • Developing a new web-based export health certificate monitor system for trade in animals in EU (TRACES).

The Government also adopted EU legislation in a number of animal health and welfare areas and brought forward several other important Strategies. These included:

  • Strengthening rules against the risk of disease by restricting imports of animal products from outside EU;
  • Adopting a new FMD Directive; and
  • Developing an Animal Welfare Bill on the welfare of animals kept by humans.

Outgoing Chief Veterinary Officer Jim Scudamore said: "Good progress has been made this year with the development of a comprehensive 10-year Animal Health and Welfare Strategy for Great Britain. Publication of the strategy will meet key recommendations from both the Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food and the FMD Lessons Learned inquiry. Working in partnership with colleagues in Scotland and Wales, developing the Strategy has involved extensive and detailed consultations with all sections of the industry to set out a clear path towards the delivery of a sustainable future for animal health and welfare.

"As a result of the continuing decline in the number of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) cases, the UK has been able to press the EU Commission for re-designation from 'high' to 'moderate' BSE risk status. Following analysis of the data, the European Food Safety Authority has endorsed the UK's request which would bring it into line with most other European countries. We await the Commission's decision.

"Post-FMD policies have continued to be developed and implemented during 2003 including a reduction of the 20 day standstill period for cattle, sheep and goats to six days in England and Wales and 13 days in Scotland. The backlog of TB tests which built up following suspension of the control programme during the FMD epidemic was gradually reduced to pre-FMD levels. Following an increase in TB in reactive trial culling areas, the randomised badger culling trial was suspended on the advice of the Independent Scientific Group. The proactive and survey only elements of the trial are continuing."

Chief Veterinary Officer Debby Reynolds commented: "I should like to take this opportunity to pay tribute and thank Jim Scudamore for his significant contribution as Chief Veterinary Officer during the last 7 years. There have been many changes and some major challenges in the field of animal health and welfare, and we have all benefitted from his clear thinking and measured approach. We wish him well in his retirement.

"Animal health and welfare is a dynamic area with far reaching consquences for nature and the environment. Even climatic changes can have an impact on animal disease. The development of the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy, which is set to be published later this month, will provide for a clearer focus and greater emphasis on the delivery and implementation of policies. Through the strategy I intend to develop stronger collaborative links with the industry and encourage greater openness and transparency in Government thinking and decision making."

To view the full report, please click here

Source: Defra - 16th June 2004

5m Editor