BSAS launches Brexit white paper

BSAS has published a Brexit white paper which it says government must follow if the future of UK livestock production is to be secured outside the European Union.

The five-point action plan sets out key areas policy makers need to focus on to ensure the long-term sustainability of UK livestock production and research.

Without decisive action, the country’s livestock sector risks being irreparably damaged, with food security and the country’s rural landscapes put under threat, the society says.

Written in conjunction with a team of leading animal scientists, farmers, and industry advisors, the paper says:

1. Additional government support must target applied research which drives innovation, has rapid impact and adds value
2. Policies must improve competitiveness and be evidence based
3. UK Scientists must have access to European Research Funding
4. The UK livestock workforce must have appropriate skills and training
5. Support for livestock production and research underpin UK
food security, biodiversity, tourism and the rural economy

Launching the paper at the society’s annual conference at the University of Chester on Wednesday (26 April), BSAS president Liam Sinclair said the livestock sector plays a key role in the UK’s food and drink industry, which is worth nearly £82bn a year.

Without giving proper attention to the needs and concerns of the industry, the country risks losing its status as a world leader in animal science and production.

“If we want to extend our global competitiveness and maintain our current standards of production, food quality and animal welfare, it is essential that Government develops well thought out, focused policies that are based on sound evidence and supported by targeted incentives," Professor Sinclair said.

“Brexit doesn’t necessarily mean bad news for the sector - in fact there are opportunities by leaving the EU, provided we are helped to grasp them.

“This is a chance to join up thinking across government and the industry as a whole. It will be difficult to do, but it’s vital that it happens. That's why we've produced this white paper to help the government as it makes those decisions.”

The white paper is the start of a series of steps BSAS plans to take to ensure the voice of animal scientists, livestock producers and others working across the sector are heard during Brexit negotiations.

Over the coming months, the society will be holding events across the livestock industry and with policy makers to discuss the issues raised in the white paper, and help find ways that they can be addressed.

The society will also be asking members and those concerned about the future of UK food and farming to engage in the debate, and ensure their concerns are heard by writing to their MPs.

Read the full BSAS Brexit white paper