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Animal Health Plan Gets Welcome From Farmers

The NFU has strongly welcomed the outline Animal Health and Welfare Strategy published by the government for consultation today and pledged to work towards its implementation.

A key plank of the outline strategy is a new partnership between the livestock industry, the veterinary profession and the government - an approach that the NFU has stressed as vital.

NFU animal health and welfare chairman Neil Cutler said: "Co-operation between all those involved is key to the success of any coherent long term strategy.

"Past experience has shown starkly the price to be paid for the failure to co-ordinate disease prevention activity.

"The NFU strongly supports the concept of an animal health and welfare strategy and will fully co-operate to ensure the vision set out in the outline strategy is realised."

Key elements of the outline strategy include assessing the role and availability of large animal veterinary practices, developing an action plan for farm health and promoting the responsible use of veterinary medicines building on best practice at home and abroad.

The NFU is particularly pleased to see proposals for individual farm health plans, believing that the farmer/vet relationship is the main springboard for a pro-active strategy.

Mr Cutler said if the final strategy was to work all partners must recognise their responsibilities, including the need for the government to protect the UK's borders from imported diseases and to tackle politically sensitive issues like TB in cattle and wildlife.

Mr Cutler added: "Delivery is all. Any effective strategy cannot duck difficult issues, such as TB in cattle. This issue will be seen by farmers as a test of the government's resolve.

"The NFU looks forward to close involvement in the various stakeholder groups."

The outline strategy is in response to the Curry Commission's call for a comprehensive strategic approach to animal health and welfare following the UK's series of animal disease catastrophes.

Defra today launched a consultation on an outline strategy drawn up in the light of responses to an earlier consultation in January on the vision for a new animal health and welfare strategy for the UK. The aim is to begin implementing the final strategy in spring 2004.

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