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Brexit trade deals ‘biggest risk to animal welfare’
"The biggest risk to animal welfare post-Brexit would be the wrong kind of trade deal - or no trade deal at all."
Expert panel says imports must meet UK’s high welfare standards

Post-Brexit trade deals are the greatest threat to animal welfare, experts warned during a fringe event at the Conservative party conference.

The event, hosted by the RSPCA, saw an expert panel debate the future of higher welfare farming and British agriculture post-Brexit.

Agricultural experts warned that the government’s commitment to welfare in farming could be undermined if we do not insist on the same standards when striking international trade deals.

Vice president of the National Farmers Union, Stuart Roberts, said: “It is one thing to have the highest standards domestically in the UK but we have to use those same standards and ethics when it comes to future trade deals. Because otherwise all we’ll do is give politicians and consumers the opportunity to export their consciences.”

RSPCA’s head of public affairs David Bowles added: “The biggest risk to animal welfare post-Brexit would be the wrong kind of trade deal - or no trade deal at all. Ensuring animal products that are imported to the UK meet our high welfare standards must be a priority not just for animal welfare reasons but also to protect the integrity of UK food and the commercial viability of UK farming.”

Agriculture minister George Eustice confirmed the government’s commitment to protect UK animal welfare standards in any future trade deals. He also revealed that the new Agriculture Bill, which has a second reading on 10 October, will contain provisions for animal welfare payments to incentivise farms. Animal welfare pilot schemes will start in 2020 and could be given priority funding.

Mr Eustice said: “The way we treat animals is the hallmark of a civilised society … we won’t give up or change our standards in pursuit of a deal.”

The panel also agreed that consumers must be empowered to make better decisions about the meat and animal products they buy. They welcomed the definition of animal welfare as a public good, as well as the holistic approach to food production, animal health and welfare in the upcoming Agriculture Bill.

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Stephen Fry lends voice to frog conservation film

News Story 1
 Comedian and author Stephen Fry has lent his voice to a new animation that hopes to raise awareness of deadly ranavirus, which is threatening the UK’s frogs.

Research by ZSL, who created the short film, suggests that at least 20 per cent of ranavirus cases over the past three decades, could be attributed to human introductions. This includes pond owners introducing fish, frog spawn and plants from other environments.

Amphibian disease expert Dr Stephen Price said: “People can help stop the spread by avoiding moving potentially infected material such as spawn, tadpoles, pond water and plants into their own pond. Disinfecting footwear or pond nets before using them elsewhere will also help.” 

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Scotland to fund OV training

The Scottish Government has revealed it will fund training for new Official Veterinarians (OVs), covering the Essential Skills, Statutory Surveillance and TB Testing.

Funding will also be provided for the revalidation of Essential Skills, as well as TB Testing for existing OVs. This is the second round of financial support from the Scottish Government for OVs.

BVA president Simon Doherty said he is “delighted” with the announcement.

“Official Veterinarians’ work in safeguarding animal health and welfare and ensuring food safety is invaluable,” he added. “This announcement has come at a crucial time, with Brexit and an uncertain future ahead, the role of OVs will be more important than ever in enabling the UK’s trade in animal products.