The president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has highlighted the role of trusted local veterinary surgeons in delivering better animal health and welfare in Wales.

Speaking to assembly members and key stakeholders in the agri-food and animal welfare sectors at the association’s annual Welsh dinner in Cardiff, Robin Hargreaves discussed the delivery of the new Animal Health and Welfare Framework as well as bovine tuberculosis (bTB) testing, Cymorth TB and veterinary surveillance. In doing so, he underlined the importance of the relationship between farmers and their local vets.

On bTB, Mr Hargreaves warned against misinterpretation of TB statistics.

“In Wales, news of significant reductions in new herd incidents and in the number of cattle slaughtered across the country is very welcome,” he said. “It is essential the latest figures are not hijacked by the political lobby that would claim the stats show badger vaccination is a proven alternative to culling.

“There is as yet no evidence to suggest the badger vaccination programme in the intensive action area has had an additional benefit to that experienced across the whole of Wales, and it is still too early to draw any conclusions.”

Discussing Cymorth TB – the Welsh Government’s practical support and advice service for the country’s cattle keepers – Mr Hargreaves called for the initiative to be rolled out further.

‘We are very encouraged to hear the benefits of the scheme have been recognised and we fully support its wider roll out,” he said.

“This success is in large part due to the strong relationship that exists between local veterinary surgeons and their clients. Farmer compliance in disease management and control is key and the farmer’s local – trusted – vet is best placed to deliver additional services and provide a bridge between policymakers and livestock owners.”

Mr Hargreaves also called on guests to support the BVA campaign to end non-stun slaughter.

“At the end of April we launched our UK-wide e-petition calling for an end to non-stun slaughter and we have been delighted to attract more than 70,000 signatures in just two months,” he said.

“If you believe, as I do, that all animals deserve a humane death, and you haven’t already given your support to the campaign I urge you to do so now. We recognise it is a sensitive issue, but politicians cannot continue to ignore the public call for better information and clearer labelling. We shouldn’t have to wait for European legislation to make a difference in the future. UK consumers want to have confidence in the food they buy today.

“Non-stun slaughter affects millions of animals each year. It’s time to work together and take action.”

The full speech also covered:

  • new dog breeding regulations
  • tendering for official veterinarian services
  • 24/7 emergency care
  • veterinary manpower in Wales
  • plans to open a new veterinary school at the University of Aberystwyth
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • fly-grazing and the Control of Horses (Wales) Act
  • responsible pet ownership
  • dog microchipping regulations
  • exotic pets

BVA honorary associate member and Plaid Cymru shadow minister for sustainable communities, energy and food Llyr Gruffydd also delivered a speech on behalf of the guests.

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