October 16, 2003



UK's NFU Supports Plan to Animal Disease Prevention


UK's NFU yesterday gave its backing to Defra's plans for a revitalised "partnership approach" to the prevention of animal disease in future, but used the opportunity to remind ministers of the UK government' that this too, is their responsibilities.


In its written response to proposals in the Outline Animal Health and Welfare Strategy, the NFU welcomed the new three-pronged approach to animal disease prevention.

The strategy builds on a partnership between the livestock industry, veterinary profession and government. This is a co-operative approach that the NFU has described as central to any coherent long-term strategy.

Government must deal with epidemic and exotic disease and maintain the lead in providing national bio-security and a comprehensive disease surveillance programme. Farmers and vets will work together to improve animal health and welfare through whole farm health plans, all of which is supported by the NFU.

The NFU's response, however, strikes a note of caution regarding the loss of large-animal vets from the profession. It says farmers must have access to qualified professionals to discuss and draw up individual health plans.

The NFU's animal health and welfare spokesman Neil Cutler said: "Farmers recognise that a healthy herd is a productive herd but they will need access to information and professionals to draw up effective plans for their individual farms."

"The NFU has long argued that a strong large-animal veterinary sector is crucial not only for the fight against disease but in the job of prevention."

The NFU's response goes on to stress the need for government to recognise its responsibilities not only to protect UK borders from disease but also to address issues including politically-sensitive diseases like TB in cattle and the wildlife population.

The outline strategy is in response to the Curry Commission's call for a comprehensive strategic approach to animal health and welfare following a series of animal disease catastrophes in the UK. This was drawn up by Defra according to earlier responses to a consultation in January. The aim is to begin implementing the final strategy in spring 2004.

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