A new ten-year vision for sustainable animal health and welfare in Great Britain was today [Wednesday] launched in London by Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs minister Elliot Morley and the chief veterinary officer Jim Scudamore, while simultaneous launches took place in Wales and Scotland.

The vision, unveiled in a major consultation paper, follows the recommendations made by the Policy Commission Report on the Future of Food and Farming and the recent foot and mouth inquiries.

Animal Health and Welfare Minister Elliot Morley said that in recent years it had been clearly demonstrated how animal diseases could be a threat to people’s health as well as having a huge impact on the livestock and food sectors.

“This consultation document will act as a scoping study to gather ideas from stakeholders about what the strategy should cover. It draws together concerns, roles and responsibilities as well as issues that have already emerged in our initial discussions with stakeholders.

“In the consultation document, we are not seeking agreement to specific policy approaches but aiming to build a shared vision with stakeholders and a commitment to developing a sustainable future for animal health and welfare.

“We will be asking key questions about the potential role of the private vet, the responsibilities of animal owners and the current balance of government intervention,” he added.

The strategy aims to provide a clear direction for the development of future policies and the revision of existing measures, as well as establishing a framework to enable government and stakeholders to agree priorities, clarify responsibilities and set strategic goals. It will also increase the transparency of government actions and will be a mechanism for moving towards better public information and advice.

By 2012, the strategy aims to have achieved:

  • Consistently high standards of animal health and welfare

  • Improved public health

  • A better informed and more effective livestock industry

  • A capacity to deal swiftly and effectively with any disease emergency

  • A policy framework that is clear and justified

  • Professional veterinary services which are proactive and joined-up with government

  • Better use of science in priority areas

During the three-month consultation period, Defra, the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Executive aims to hold consultation meetings with as many organisations and people as possible by taking the draft vision for the strategy around the country.