Animal Health and Welfare Framework for England

 Our Council has a statutory duty to help the local community comply with laws that aim to prevent the spread of animal disease and protect the welfare of animals. It is compliance with these laws that gives our farming industry the freedom to trade freely and thrive, shaping our countryside and making a major contribution to the local economy.

 Central and local government partners have produced an updated Animal Health and Welfare Framework that offers local authorities a set of principles to help deliver duties under animal health and welfare legislation in a way that is –

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  •  Responsive and accountable to local communities;
  • Focused on high risk activities to make best use of limited resources;
  • Recognises why national consistency is important for businesses, the public and to protect against animal disease;
  • Delivers controls in a way that supports European and international trade agreements;
  • Promotes collaborative working with other local authorities, delivery partners and industry.

As we approach the UK exit from the European Union, it is important to remember that our regulatory role provides the checks expected from international partners under trade agreements. It also gives the public reassurance about animal welfare standards, identifies criminal activity and keeps the food we eat safe.

 There are stark examples of what can happen to our countryside and economy when farmers fail to comply with animal health and welfare laws. It takes a moment to recall the vivid images of animals burning on pyres during Foot and Mouth Disease in 2001 or of desolate countryside closed to the public. That single outbreak cost the UK economy over £8 billion.

Every single day farmers must follow laws to prevent this situation occurring again. There are rules to protect against the spread of diseases such as bovine TB and Avian Influenza and laws to prevent illegal feeding of animal products to livestock and to protect the welfare of animals transported within the UK.

Sometimes the issues are not quite so innocent. Organised criminals are found in any industry where there is money to be made. Cases range from illegally imported puppies to food fraud, and may involve complex issues such as slavery and exploitation of the most vulnerable in society.

Our local authority helps farmers and businesses comply with these laws, providing support to ensure they can once again thrive and taking appropriate action when laws are consistently breached.

What does our local authority need to do under the new Framework?

 Under the Framework we are being asked to –

  •  Develop a risk based and accessible process for responding to complaints relating to animal health matters on farm.
  • Provide transparency about how the local authority responds to animal welfare complaints and works with partners to respond to these.
  • Identify high risk businesses and produce an annual programme of interventions for all these businesses.
  • Undertake an annual audit of each livestock market and collection centre in partnership with APHA and produce an annual programme of interventions based on the outcomes of the audit.
  • Actively engage in regional animal health and welfare groups and networking.
  • Work as a region to review the level of intelligence being recorded and use intelligence to identify any potential threats on at least an annual basis.
  • Consider how to meet EU standards for the delivery of Official Controls and any future trade agreements.
  • Have an up to date animal disease contingency plan in place.

The updated Animal Health and Welfare Framework is due to be made available on the Defra website. It can also be accessed on the Local Government Animal Health and Welfare Khub and the ACTSO website.

Produced in partnership between Defra and the Animal Plant Health Agency (APHA), the Association of Chief Trading Standards Officers (ACTSO) and the National Animal Health and Welfare Panel (NAHWP). It is supported by the Local Government Association (LGA).