BVA President champions vet role in surveillance and welfare in Wales

02 July 2013

The President of the British Veterinary Association has stressed the need for the veterinary profession to be involved in decisions about the future of veterinary surveillance and AHVLA in Wales at the Association's annual Welsh dinner.

In his address, given under the theme of ‘vets adding value', BVA President Peter Jones also reiterated the profession's support for a ban on non-stun slaughter, highlighted the need for animal welfare plans at livestock shows, and called on the Welsh Government to push Westminster for preventive action on dog control.

The Welsh Government Director General for Sustainable Futures, Gareth Jones, addressed the guests on behalf of the Minister Alun Davies who was called away for a debate in the Senedd. Guests included parliamentarians, key representatives of animal health and welfare organisations and the agri-food industry, and senior members of the veterinary profession.

On veterinary surveillance Peter Jones said:

“It's far from ideal to have to review our veterinary surveillance capabilities at a time when budgets need to be cut – a huge challenge for all four administrations of the UK right now.

“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 AHVLA. He said:

“As the role of AHVLA post-2015 is being reviewed in Wales, we want – and need – to be a part of that conversation. 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. He said:

“Ultimately, the BVA wants to see all animals stunned before slaughter. 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 highlighted a new initiative on welfare at livestock shows. He said:

“As we approach the Royal Welsh Show I am 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.

“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.”

On dog control, Mr Jones called on Welsh Government not to abandon the principles of the draft Control of Dogs (Wales) Bill. He said:

“More recently Welsh Government has indicated that it will work with Westminster on dog control measures. When the announcement was made we expressed serious reservations.

“We felt that Wales could be a beacon of best practice in dog control and so we were disappointed that the proposed Dog Control Notices to embrace a more preventive approach and focus on responsible ownership would be lost.

“But we believe that Wales can and should be the driver for change in Westminster. The legislation is currently being considered at committee stage and we would strongly support Welsh Government making the case for Dog Control Notices to be put back into the plans.”

The full text of Peter Jones's speech can be downloaded from the menu on the right and also includes: ‘Cymorth TB' (a pilot project for enhanced TB support); bovine TB policy; Farming Connect; disease priorities (including sheep scab and BVD); liver fluke and the availability of flukicides; antimicrobial resistance; Schmallenberg virus; the horsemeat scandal and equine identification; wild animals in travelling circuses; microchipping of dogs; dog breeding regulations; and internet pet advertising.

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