DEFRA launches health strategy

THE GOVERNMENT has launched a ten year strategy which sets out the direction it wants to take to improve animal health and welfare on British farms.

The strategy sets a vision for the future of animal health and welfare and lists a series of targets it wants to have achieved by 2014.

These include getting Great Britain‘s disease status to be one of the highest in the world, which would enable the industry to trade animals and animal products internationally.

But more controversially, it adds that DEFRA would also like to see that the costs of health and welfare are “appropriately balanced between industry and the taxpayer”.

Speaking at the launch, junior DEFRA minister Ben Bradshaw said partnership between farmers, vets and government would be key to turning round health and welfare.
“Just as this strategy has been developed in partnership, delivering it over the next ten years will also rely on a united effort,” he said.

“We all have a role to play in safeguarding and improving the health and welfare of our animals.

“The strategy defines those responsibilities and sets the direction to help us meet them.”

Mr Bradshaw said there were real benefits that could be achieved by improving the health and welfare of animals.

“We need to work together to ensure that these benefits are achieved and that the associated costs are appropriately balanced,” he said.

One of the key areas of work in the strategy is the idea of farm health planning and a working group has already set in motion research to look at common diseases.

Reading University has been commissioned to work with key interested parties, to study the costs of diseases such as foot-rot or digital dermatitis.

The study will examine the current losses faced by farmers with the diseases, the costs of keeping the diseases off the farm and the benefits associated with freedom from disease.