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Sharing Responsibility For Health, Welfare Policy

27 April 2011

UK - People affected by Government policy on animal health and welfare will for the first time make recommendations on those policies directly to Ministers, Agriculture Minister Jim Paice announced yesterday.

A new Animal Health and Welfare Board for England will bring experts including farmers, veterinarians, welfare experts and others from outside Government together with the Chief Veterinary Officer and civil servants to make direct policy recommendations on policy affecting the health and welfare of all kept animals such as farm animals, horses and pets.

Jim Paice said: “This is a completely new way of working. It replaces the old ways, where the people most affected by decisions were kept at arm’s length from policy making on those subjects.

“This is about the Big Society not just existing in our communities, but in the heart of Government – helping to put the decisions in the hands of those who are doing the work on the ground.

“We’ve already seen the success of a partnership between farmers and the Government with the work that’s been done on bluetongue – which has seen the disease virtually eradicated in this country.”

Final decisions on animal health and welfare policy will remain in the hands of Government Ministers.

The Board will be made up of around 12 members, 5 senior Defra officials including the Chief Veterinary Officer, and 7-8 external members including the chair. The external members will have experience and knowledge of kept and farmed animals, animal and veterinary science, and animal welfare, and could be farmers, veterinarians, animal welfare experts.

The Board and its members will have to represent the views of all stakeholders so will be expected to communicate with them regularly.

The Board’s responsibilities include:

  • setting the strategic policy priorities;
  • development of key policies and how they should be funded;
  • assessing the risk of threats from animal disease and how to manage them;
  • determining the surveillance and research priorities;
  • reviewing and developing contingency plans for dealing with new disease outbreaks; and
  • considering, what if any, charging mechanisms should be introduced.

The Board will not be set up as a non departmental public body or arms length body. It will form part of the internal structure of Defra.

On 13 December the Independent Responsibility and Cost Sharing Advisory Group chaired by Rosemary Radcliffe published the findings of their work on how animal keepers can play a greater role on tackling animal disease.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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