‘Priorities need to become promises’, BVA warns government

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has urged the government to act on its commitments to support the EU workforce post-Brexit.

Responding to the House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee’s report on Brexit: Farm Animal Welfare, the government outlined securing the status of the veterinary workforce as a top priority that negotiations will focus on.

It also highlighted that the UK’s high standards of animal welfare should be prioritised and not undermined by imports coming from other countries where welfare is not as high.

“We welcome the government’s acknowledgement 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,” said John Fishwick, president of the BVA.

“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 the past 18 months.”

Fishwick called on the government to demonstrate its intention to retain the UK’s high animal welfare standards by “taking action now to enshrine Article 13 on animal sentience in the 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,” he continued. “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.”

Fishwick concluded that animal health, welfare and public health standards must be retained once the withdrawal process is complete.

He said: “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 certifications, to avoid the potential for animal welfare breaches and food fraud that is associated with multiple parallel standards, while ensuring consumer confidence moving forward.”

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