The Animal Health and Welfare Board for England (AHWBE) has called on the Government to create a funding pot for animal health and welfare as part of its post-Brexit farming policy.
The board suggested the cash would help to support growth in productivity and competitiveness, enhance the nation’s reputation for quality, reduce antimicrobial use and improve biosecurity.
In their recommendation to Defra Ministers George Eustice and Lord Gardiner, the board said: “The AHWBE believes funding for a transitional period would make a significant impact in enabling industry to develop a co-ordinated approach to addressing disease and delivering the Government’s goal of maintaining the high level of welfare which currently exists.
“It would materially assist the sector in responding to EU exit and support a growth in productivity.”
The Ministers have agreed to take the recommendation into account in their upcoming consultation on future farming policy.
Phil Stocker, chief executive of the National Sheep Association (NSA), told Farmers Guardian he agreed with the health and welfare priorities outlined by AHWBE.
“We feel these should be encompassed in a wider ‘efficiency and resource management’ support payment, which is a concept NSA has been championing for some considerable time”, he added.
Tenant Farmers’ Association (TFA) chief executive George Dunn, however, was quick to point out animal health and welfare standards in the UK were already high.
“If we are now to push for even higher standards, we will need specific public investment and higher farmgate prices”, he said.
“In addition, most importantly, we will need to have a proper regulatory framework in place to protect those high standards from unfair competition from lower standard products at retail and food service checkouts and at our international trading borders.”