BVA urges Government to turn Brexit farm animal welfare priorities into promises

13 October 2017

The Government must enshrine its intentions in future trade policy and UK legislation

The Government's official response to the House of Lords EU Energy and Environment
Sub-Committee's report on Brexit: Farm Animal Welfare is promising, but actual
promises now need to be made in Brexit negotiations, says BVA.

Recognising the vital
role of EU vets, as outlined in the Brexit: Farm Animal Welfare report
published in July, the Government's response stated: “Many vets working in
the UK are EU nationals …and the Prime Minister has made clear that securing
the status of the veterinary workforce is a top priority. Ongoing negotiations
as part of the Article 50 negotiations will help firm up our commitment to do
this.

“We are continuing to
work across government and with the veterinary profession to help develop a
flexible and skilled workforce which meets the UK's needs.”

The Government's
response to the report also outlined an intention to retain the UK's high
standards of welfare, and agreed that we should seek to avoid these potentially
being undermined by cheaper imports produced to lower animal welfare standards.

Commenting on the
Government's response to the Brexit: Farm Animal Welfare report, BVA President
John Fishwick said:

“We welcome the
Government's acknowledgment of the veterinary workforce as a top priority, and
value the close working with the profession to ensure a flexible and skilled
workforce which meets the UK's needs post-Brexit.

"The impact of losing even a
small percentage of the workforce could have serious repercussions on the
practices, communities, specialist areas and industries we serve.

"Priorities
need to become promises.

"We will continue urging the Government to guarantee
the existing rights of all non-UK EU vets and vet nurses living and working in
the UK to provide reassurance to the colleagues who have been living in
uncertainty for the past 18 months.

"The Government
should demonstrate its intention, outlined in its response, to retain the UK's
high animal welfare standards by taking action now to enshrine Article 13 on
animal sentience in UK law through the EU Withdrawal Bill.

“The response suggests
a number of possible measures to prevent high UK animal welfare standards being
undermined by cheaper imports produced to lower animal welfare standards.
Consumers must continue to have confidence in the food they eat when we leave
the EU, so it is important that this commitment is embedded in future UK trade
policy.

“BVA is clear that
animal health, welfare and public health standards must be at least maintained
post Brexit. We must also see a single standard applied to the production of
animal products destined either for UK consumers or foreign markets, which includes
veterinary controls and certification, to avoid the potential for animal
welfare breaches and food fraud that is associated with multiple parallel
standards, while ensuring consumer confidence moving forwards.”

BVA President John
Fishwick outlined
these key Brexit calls and other priorities to a roomful of peers and
parliamentarians at BVA's annual Afternoon Tea lobbying event in the House
of Commons on Monday (9 October).

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