May 18, 2020
Welsh livestock farmers want assurance of vet services amid COVID-19
The Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) has expressed its support for the British Veterinary Association's call for action to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic does not lead to a future reduction in veterinary capacity.
"The current pandemic does not alter the importance of ensuring that staffing levels within veterinary practices are such that 24/7 emergency care for livestock is provided in order to safeguard animal health and welfare", said Ian Lloyd, chairman of the FUW animal health and welfare committee, as per a news release from FUW.
Lloyd added that this may require staff to be brought back from furlough, and "it is essential that the furlough scheme is flexible enough to cope with this type of arrangement".
The FUW has also called for support in the form of Business Rate Relief to minimise the risk of practices becoming financially unsustainable during the pandemic, and the potential reductions in capacity for essential services such as TB testing.
Lloyd noted that farmers in Wales collaborate with their farm veterinarian to rear livestock to high standards of animal health and welfare. "A vital part of maintaining and improving livestock health is the farm vet and it is therefore important that the financial consequences of this pandemic do not close veterinary practices, decrease veterinary capacity and lessen our ability to look after livestock in the future".
He feared "massive implications" for farmers if veterinary practices have to close. "When the impact of this pandemic has lessened, and as the UK prepares future trade deals post-Brexit, it is essential to ensure that those roles which protect our status as producers of high quality, safe food are protected".
He concluded, "The priority of the FUW will always be to ensure the future of farms in Wales. Given that veterinary practices are an essential component of the supply chain, the Union has written to the business secretary to support the British Veterinary Association's call for remedial action to ensure that this pandemic does not lead to a future reduction in veterinary capacity".