Safeguarding animal health and welfare ‘at the heart’ of veterinary Brexit priorities

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The veterinary sector has called on the UK government to ensure existing animal health and welfare protection standards are ‘at least maintained’ when the UK eventually leaves the EU.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has said the UK government must ensure existing animal health and welfare, public health, veterinary medicines, workforce, and environmental protection standards are maintained as part of negotiations on the UK’s exit from the European Union.

In the Brexit paper, approved by the BVA Council on 22 September, the association urged the government to seek opportunities to improve standards in accordance with evidence-based risk analysis of animal health, welfare and ethics.

BVA’s Brexit Working Group, chaired by former UK Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) Alick Simmons, has outlined principles under a number of areas of interest to the veterinary profession.

In terms of animal welfare, the sector emphasises that the unique selling point of “UK plc” post-Brexit should be high animal welfare and food safety standards.

On workforce issues, the BVA has reiterated calls for working rights for non-British EU veterinary surgeons currently working and studying in the UK, and British vets working in the EU, to be maintained.

BVA President Gudrun Ravetz said: “From the outset, one of BVA’s key priorities has been seeking reassurance for the many EU vets and vet nurses who are making an invaluable contribution in the UK across many areas of animal health and welfare, and particularly in the area of public health.

“We are maintaining that strong focus on our colleagues as well as highlighting other areas that may be affected by Brexit.

“We will ensure the voice of the veterinary profession is heard during any negotiations and discussions, to secure the best possible outcomes for our profession and for animal health and welfare in the UK.”

British Veterinary Association is also urging that any public money to replace the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) should be used to support and incentivise public goods, encompassing at least animal health and welfare, disease surveillance, biodiversity and environmental stewardship.
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