The British Veterinary Association has urged government to deliver its promises of an animal welfare stewardship programme to financially support farmers.
Earlier this year, the government recognised animal health and welfare as public goods. It spoke of the possibility of introducing pilot schemes to offer payments to farmers who deliver welfare outcomes.
However, the BVA said more detail is needed on the schemes that will see these public goods incentivised.
The veterinary industry body has recommended the use of an animal welfare stewardship programme to financially support animal welfare as a public good, alongside further development of farm assurance schemes.
The government has in the past spoken about proposals to pilot schemes that offer payments to those farmers who deliver welfare outcomes that are higher than the legislative minimum and to introduce schemes that reward new approaches to improve welfare outcomes that are not industry standard.
The BVA proposes a programme that would be based on the principles of environmental stewardship schemes, which reward land management practices that benefit the environment.
It would compensate for the additional costs of improving animal welfare outcomes, alongside providing incentives to support continuing and long-term investment into these activities.
BVA President John Fishwick said animal health and welfare “underpin” the reputation of UK farm produce.
“It is essential that these are supported as public goods in agricultural policy post-Brexit in a way that can make a positive and measurable impact on animal health and welfare,” Mr Fishwick explained.
“Vets play a crucial role in UK agriculture, right throughout the animal’s life, then from the farm-gate through to trade certification. Working towards the highest welfare standards and monitoring disease are an essential component of this, so it’s vital that the government use veterinary expertise to best effect in the development and implementation of any new policy and plans.”