Farmers have a golden opportunity to shape the future of animal health policy in England, according to the newly-appointed chairman of the Animal Health and Welfare Board.


Livestock and arable farmer Michael Seals will take up the post of chairman immediately.

Mr Seals, who was responsible for setting up the National Fallen Stock Company, told Farmers Weekly the board would draw farmers into the decision-making process.

“We will hold an open annual general meeting which stakeholders will be welcome to attend to give their views,” Mr Seals said. “But the new board will not just be a talking shop,” he pledged.

“The board will bring experts, including farmers and others from outside government, together with the chief vet and civil servants to make direct policy recommendations on animal health policy,” he said.

“It is a golden opportunity to shape the way ahead for our livestock industry,” he added.

Mr Seals’ first job will be as part of the selection panel for other external board members who are expected to be appointed in October. The first board meeting will take place as soon as November.

Mr Seals’ previous experience includes being a sub-group member for the Responsibility and Cost Sharing Advisory Group.

He also held senior posts within the NFU such as the food standards spokesman and was a contender for the union’s vice-president post in 2006.

DEFRA farm minister Jim Paice welcomed the appointment.

“This is a completely new way of working, giving real influence to those who are doing the work on the ground. Mr Seals’ appointment puts us in a strong position to face the challenges of delivering high standards of animal health and welfare in England and the competitiveness of our industry.”