New Animal Health and Welfare Board revealed

The government has announced plans to develop a new Animal Health and Welfare Board for England - which will give the livestock industry a greater say on policies.

The board, which was revealed by Defra, will bring together  farmers, veterinarians, welfare experts and others from outside government together with the Chief Veterinary Officer a to make direct policy recommendations on policy affecting the health and welfare of all kept animals such as farm animals, horses and pets.

Jim Paice, Agriculture Minister, announcing the new board, said: “This is a completely new way of working.  It replaces the old ways, where the people most affected by decisions were kept at arm’s length from policy making on those subjects.  This is about the Big Society not just existing in our communities, but in the heart of government – helping to put the decisions in the hands of those who are doing the work on the ground.”

Peter Kendall, NFU president, said “The NFU had long-called for more industry participation in Defra policy on animal health and welfare issues. I believe that the success of this new venture will depend greatly on the quality of those individuals appointed to the board and how well the board then engages with industry.

“The NFU has committed to working with Defra to ensure the appropriate structures are put in place to enable the board to engage properly with industry and to take account of – and act on - its views.

“We will continue to hold government to account on animal health and welfare issues and in particular how the budget is funded.”

Final decisions on animal health and welfare policy will remain in the hands of government ministers.

Defra said the board woul be made up of around 12 members, five senior Defra officials including the Chief Veterinary Officer, and 7-8 external members including the chair.  The external members will have experience and knowledge of kept and farmed animals, animal and veterinary science, and animal welfare, and could be farmers, veterinarians, animal welfare experts, added the government department.

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