Today (7th April) the government reversed its decision to move towards jointly-owned welfare guidance.

BPC Chairman John Reed said, “We’re disappointed by the change of policy at Defra. What this means now is that we, along with other livestock sectors, will be left with outdated welfare guidance.”

The BPC have been involved since 2012 following the recommendation from the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England (AHWBE) and the MacDonald task force that government should consider moving towards industry-led guidance due to the number of outdated statutory welfare codes requiring an update.

Organisations have speculated on what information the guidance might contain, with claims that the livestock industry would become self-regulating. This was never the case.

The law and enforcement of animal welfare regulations were always going to remain with Defra. What the policy meant, was that the welfare guidance, supporting the legislation, would have been jointly-owned by industry and government to ensure that they were kept up to date with legislation, industry practice and research.

Reed continued, “We supported the move towards jointly-owned guidance and we have contributed a significant amount of resource to this piece of work and are frustrated that it has been repealed before we were able to publish the content. By revoking its decision, Defra is walking away from an opportunity to ensure welfare guidance is kept up to date with the latest research using industry expertise.”

The primary purpose of industry’s involvement in the guidance was to help poultry farmers to comply with the legislation by providing clear and accessible description of the regulatory requirements and by elaborating actions and approaches known to help achieve them.

Going against the recommendations of the AHWBE and the MacDonald Task Force leaves Defra with the responsibility of finding adequate resource to update the existing codes.

Defra will meet with the industry soon to consider the right approach on how to build the non-statutory guidance drafted by industry alongside the statutory codes.