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This conference focused on next steps for animal health and welfare following the publication of the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway last year, as well as the priorities moving forward for animal welfare as a public good.
As it took place with the Annual Health and Welfare Review open to all eligible farmers, alongside the announcement of grants being offered as part of the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund, delegates assessed the outlook for supporting uptake and productivity alongside health and welfare.
It was an opportunity to assess the new standards as part of the Sustainable Farming Incentive, and how food production can become more resilient and efficient whilst contributing to wider environmental goals.
Delegates also examined government ambitions to create increased market demand for higher standards in this area, and the role of mandatory animal welfare labelling, for which the Government is preparing to consult later this year on new proposals announced in the recent Food Strategy.
We are pleased to have been able to include keynote sessions with Dr Christine Middlemiss, UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and Fran Edmunds, Head of Policy within Future Farming, Farm Animal Welfare and Food Labelling, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Overall, the agenda included discussion on:
- animal health and welfare in the UK: the future direction of policy - opportunities for continuous improvement through delivery of the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway
- delivering animal health as a public good: engaging and incentivising farmers to improve animal welfare - getting the most out of Annual Health and Welfare Reviews - the role of new grants
- regulation: options for enforcement following ambitions to achieve standards higher than baseline
- improving farm standards: infection and disease control - supporting the development of new approaches - connecting with wider policy on AMR and sustainability
- mandatory animal welfare labelling:
- equipping consumers with the information needed to make informed purchases
- trends and data on public attitudes
- examining the Government’s approach of moving market demand closer to high standard purchases, and how this could work in practice
- impacts on production costs
- the future trade deal landscape:
- the impact of pushing for higher standards in domestic produce
- assessing how animal welfare standards have been approached in deals with Australia and New Zealand
The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials from the APHA; DAERA, NI; DBT; Defra; DAFM, Ireland; FSA; FSS; Isle of Man Government; VMD; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government - as well as by parliamentary pass-holders from The House of Commons.