The National Office of Animal Health (NOAH) has welcomed the plans in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) roadmap to invest in improving animal health and welfare, with the initial focus on endemic diseases amongst cattle sheep and pigs.
The roadmap outlines changes that will come into force over a period of seven years to help farmers adapt and plan for the future, to ensure that by 2028, farmers in England can produce healthy food sustainably and without subsidy, whilst taking steps to improve the environment, improve animal health and welfare and reduce carbon emissions.
The Agricultural Transition Plan sets out more detail on the timetable and how the objectives will be achieved.
NOAH chief executive Dawn Howard said: “The Government’s ambitions to focus on endemic disease amongst cattle, pigs and sheep echo those of NOAH’s Vision Paper. This will deliver benefits in terms of welfare, productivity, sustainability and resilience of farms.
“We are pleased to see a timetable for the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway for England. However, disease knows no borders, and a key principle set out in our 2019 Vision paper is to encourage meaningful co-operation between the devolved nations, as they each take responsibility for the health and welfare of the animals.
“NOAH will promote collaboration through its participation in groups such as the Ruminant Health and Welfare Group and look forward to working with Defra to help support delivery.”
NOAH’s Vision Paper proposes a holistic approach to improve livestock health, welfare and farm businesses. It suggests incentivisation of endemic disease control programmes and support for vaccination.
Ms Howard added: “Vaccination is one key tool that can be used in the push to tackle endemic disease. Livestock vaccines prevent and protect against harmful disease and are an evidenced-based way to secure world leading standards in animal health and welfare.
“They are vital tools that should be harnessed at a population level and implemented into the management protocols of all livestock farms, supporting them to be proactive and progressive and forming a part of each farm health plan.”
Ms Howard said this commitment to reduce disease will also help further support the industry’s already tremendous response to the challenge of reducing the need for antibiotics and hence continue to play our part in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.
She added: “Professional development of farmers is also important. As Defra’s plans for support for improved animal health and welfare are published, NOAH is pleased to see that over 500 UK farmers have already committed to raising standards by completing our Animal Medicines Best Practice (AMBP) training.”