Defra reverses decision on animal welfare guidance
The government has reversed its decision to move toward jointly-owned welfare guidance, angering some figures within the industry.
Both the British Poultry Council (BPC) and National Farmers Union (NFU) have expressed their disappointment at the U-turn by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
The British Poultry Council’s guidance was set to be published on 27th April. BPC chairman John Reed commented: “We’re disappointed by the change of policy at Defra. What this means now is that we, along with other livestock sectors, will be left with outdated welfare guidance.”
Initially, Defra announced the plan to move towards industry-led guidance due to the number of statutory welfare codes requiring updates. The law and enforcement of animal welfare regulations were to remain with Defra.
Reed continued: “We supported the move towards jointly-owned guidance and we have contributed a significant amount of resource to this piece of work and are frustrated that it has been repealed before we were able to publish the content. By revoking its decision, Defra is walking away from an opportunity to ensure welfare guidance is kept up to date with the latest research using industry expertise.”
NFU deputy president Minette Batters added: “It’s extremely concerning to us that Defra are rescinding the jointly-owned animal welfare guidance – it sets a dangerous precedent for both government and our industry.
“The NFU, alongside other farming organisations, has been strengthening this guidance with scientific evidence, making it relevant to farming practices today. The guidance is one of the key tools farmers can refer to when health planning for their herd or flock and to disregard such an important resource shows little understanding of its value.”