A call for action from the Welsh government on meat that has not been stunned before slaughter, has been made by the British Veterinary Association (BVA).
The request for action was made at the BVA’s annual dinner, which was hosted in Cardiff City Hall last night (3 July). The dinner was attended by parliamentarians, key representatives from animal health and welfare organisations and senior members of the veterinary profession.
At the dinner, BVA president Carl Padgett spoke of the BVA’s concerns that meat from non-stunned slaughter was reaching the mainstream market, which is something the law did not intend, he said. He also recognised how politically difficult the topic was, but noted that the BVA had received support since raising its concern.
Padgett also reiterated his organisation’s concerns surrounding the future of veterinary laboratories in Wales and the option to tackle bovine TB with a badger cull to be “put back on the table”.
Padgett expressed his disappointment over the decision to stop the proposed badger cull by replacing it with a vaccination policy that was not “supported or proven by existing science”.
He explained that the promise of an average 16% reduction in herd breakdowns over the coming decade did not seem “insignificant” to the vets and livestock-keepers battling the disease on a daily basis. Padgett said: “We hope the option of a badger cull remains on the table for consideration as the TB picture continues to develop, to work alongside vaccination and cattle measures and give us the chance to fight TB without one hand tied behind our backs.”
Despite urging the Welsh government to reconsider the badger cull, Padgett acknowledged that a decision had been made and asked his colleagues to do their best to support the roll-out of the vaccination.
As well as trying to tackle the issues surrounding bovine TB, Padgett also spoke of his concern about veterinary labs closing in Wales, saying the BVA was “surprised” by the announcement, which was “made before a proper assessment had been undertaken on the impact of the UK’s surveillance network”. However, he did note his understanding that both Defra and the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) had to make budget cuts, but pressed for future models to have good surveillance strategies rather than cuts to costs.
Padgett added leverage to his argument by using the outbreak of the Schmallenberg Virus in northern Europe as an example of why investment into surveillance needed to be made. He said: “The state will always need a core of properly trained, properly motivated, and properly rewarded veterinary surgeons in the event of a notifiable disease outbreak.
“There is never a good time for a new disease to appear, but the emergence of the Schmallenberg Virus in northern Europe and England has provided us with a very timely reminder of the acute need for robust national and international surveillance systems.”