The House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRACom) has warned Defra that plans to close AHVLA laboratory services at sites across the UK may risk a reduction in the Agency’s ability to identify and tackle animal disease outbreaks. In a letter to the agriculture Minister, Jim Paice, the committee sets out a number of concerns raised by farmers, vets and AHVLA staff about the rationalisation programme.
The BVA and British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA) have welcomed this statement from the EFRA Committee on the AHVLA plans to rationalise veterinary laboratory services.
Commenting, Carl Padgett, BVA President, said:
"We are grateful to the EFRA Committee for recognising the vital importance of the UK's veterinary surveillance network.
“We agree wholeheartedly that there is a real need for transparency and full consultation and the BVA is pleased to have had input into the surveillance review group. We look forward to the group’s findings and recommendations which we will consider when the report is published.”
Andrew Praill, President of BCVA, added:
"The emergence of Schmallenberg virus is a reminder of the need for a robust surveillance system.
"EFRACom has identified a number of serious concerns with the current approach and we hope ministers and AHVLA listen to them."
Earlier this week Mr Padgett addressed the issue in his speech at the BVA annual London dinner. He said:
“We would urge Defra and AHVLA to slow down, give the surveillance review group time for full consideration, and listen carefully to any recommendations it makes. Decisions made now will impact on our future ability to deliver that first line of defence and if we lose the infrastructure of our veterinary surveillance system it will almost certainly be impossible to rebuild.”