Evidence key to maintaining UK animal welfare outside the EU, BSAS tells inquiry

Animal welfare policies must be based around sound evidence if the UK is to maintain its status as a world-leader in animal production and science post-Brexit, BSAS has told a government inquiry. 

Contributing to a House of Lords inquiry into the potential impact of Brexit on farm animal welfare, BSAS said that the government had to develop rules and assurance schemes which were founded on the latest and best science.

Without taking careful measures and supporting the sector, ministers risked a reduction in welfare standards as producers grappled with the challenges of maintaining welfare whilst making a profit.

In the society’s written evidence to the House of Lord’s EU energy and environment sub committee, BSAS incoming chief executive Bruce Beveridge said that leaving the EU did not mean a decline in UK animal welfare standards was inevitable.

However he said it was vital that the government created a structured system of support to ensure producers were given all the help they needed to maintain welfare levels.

Evidence-based policies

“It is essential that measures are taken to ensure that standards and their assurance in respect of our farm animal welfare do not deteriorate,” Mr Beveridge said. 

“Removal or reduction of subsidy post CAP is likely to lead to a real risk of a reduction in welfare standards as producers wrestle with the economic realities of production. 

“There will be a clear need for innovative production practices and systems, increased knowledge transfer and appropriate assurance regimes to guard against this. As part of that, policies and standards that are developed must be firmly evidence based.”

Mr Beveridge said the UK could remain a world-leader in farm animal welfare if research institutes’ access to UK and EU funding was allowed to continue.

“We also need a regime that encourages and welcomes students and scientists from around the world to study and work in our academic institutions and industry partners,” he added. “If we do not, then our place as a world leader in this field will be seriously threatened.”

  • The future of UK animal science and livestock production post-Brexit will be a focus for the society’s upcoming annual conference at the University of Chester (26 and 27 April).

    As well as holding a special Q&A with leading experts in the sector, the society will also use the conference to launch its own Brexit white paper, which will set out priorities for government and policy makers to ensure UK animal production continues to thrive outside the EU.

    To find out more about the conference and register to attend, visit our events page.