VETS WILL play an important role in driving a more sustainable future for farming, by improving animal welfare and promoting good environmental practice.

The British Veterinary Association has set out this new agenda in response to its latest Veterinary Profession Survey, which highlighted that 89% of vets want to play a more active role in furthering sustainable animal agriculture in the UK.

The position recognises that in order to reduce the impact of farming on the environment, changes need to be made to the ways in which livestock are looked after and how food is produced – and vets are well placed to advise and influence sustainable husbandry practices and management systems from farm to fork, with a view to better protect and conserve natural resources, wild species and biodiversity.

The BVA advised that any changes farmers make to their practices must not compromise on animal health and welfare and urged the veterinary profession and those working in the farming industry to work closely to ensure that animal health and welfare are front of mind in efforts to improve sustainability.

BVA president, Simon Doherty, commented: “Vets are an integral part of the agriculture and food sector, providing preventive healthcare and treatment for livestock, carrying out disease surveillance, promoting good biodiversity and high animal welfare standards. They are well placed to advise on sustainable systems and husbandry practice and collaborate with their colleagues in the agricultural industry to work towards a more sustainable future for farming.

“In its Animal Welfare Strategy, BVA committed to developing a position on sustainable animal agriculture, and we believe that the profession has a key role to play in ensuring that the highest standards of animal health and welfare are maintained and respected as part of the agenda,” Mr Docherty concluded.

As part of this initiative, BVA is encouraging vets to promote sustainable consumption of animal products by taking a 'Less and Better' approach – recognising that fewer, healthier and happier animals, with better productivity, will have a lower environmental impact.