30 May 2019 | Animal health
BVA Welsh Branch – Briefing Assembly Members
22 May 2019 | Sarah Carr
Our Welsh branch hosted their annual briefing for Assembly Members on 14 May. BVA Welsh Branch President, Sarah Carr, tells us about the evening.
Last week BVA’s Welsh Branch teamed up with the crew from the London HQ to host our annual briefing for Welsh Assembly members.
For the second year running we were generously hosted by our great supporter and friend Llyr Gruffydd, a Plaid Cymru Assembly Member, and BVA honorary member. As usual, Llyr rose brilliantly to the task of encouraging AMs to come to the briefing following a busy plenary session in the Senedd, and we were delighted to have so many of them in attendance. It is always heartening to see how interested and enthusiastic our politicians are to discuss animal welfare matters – a reminder of how lucky we are in to live in a society which feels strongly about protecting animals. In many parts of the world it would be a far more difficult task to gain such a level of political recognition of our issues.
Brexit and the workforce
BVA President, Simon Doherty, opened the speeches with the challenges facing our profession in navigating the ever-undulating Brexit landscape. He pointed out that our 8-point plan for surviving a no-deal Brexit had gained record click rates amongst members - highlighting the level of concern felt within the profession. He noted that 25% of Welsh vets hail from the EU, as do 95% of UK abattoir vets (the figure is 100% in Wales), and spoke of the critical importance of maintaining this level of workforce. The AMs were reminded that maintaining, and where possible improving, standards of animal health, animal welfare, and public health, are vital to creating consumer confidence, both at home and with new trading partners, in the food we eat. They were asked to support our call for Animal Health and Animal Welfare to be recognised as “public goods” in any new agricultural policy, and our repeated call for the profession to be re-instated on the “Shortage Occupation List” to give us immigration priority.
Focus on Wales
I then used my speech to highlight some of our top animal health and animal welfare priorities, including:
- asking the AMs to support for our renewed call to ban non-stun slaughter and provide clearer meat labelling to allow informed consumer choice
- championing some of the fantastic surveillance and eradication work that has been going on in Wales, including the opening of the new TB Centre of Excellence in Aberystwyth, the continued success of the Gwaredu BVD project, and the welcome announcement of 5m in funding for the eradication of sheep scab.
- re-iterating our concerns around the welfare and breeding of dogs, including brachycephalic breeds, and asking the AMs to encourage all their constituents to seek our advice BEFORE purchasing a new pet.
Following speeches, the AMs were happy to stay and chat about the topics that we’d brought to their attention. Some came armed with burning animal welfare questions for us that led to some useful and lively discussion, and they all took away our briefing packs.
Being part of a close-knit profession, in a small country with agriculture and animal welfare at its heart, it is satisfying to see the clear link between this type of political engagement that seeds ideas, to attending the many stakeholder groups that help to inform policy, through to finally seeing those policies that we have helped to formulate, implemented in law.
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