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Defra Announces Remote Veterinary Inspections for AI Movement Licenses in England

TL;DR

  • Defra plans to allow remote video inspections for poultry movement licenses during Avian Influenza outbreaks in England, aiming to ease the burden on local veterinarians and address biosecurity concerns.
  • Current regulations require in-person inspections, straining veterinary resources in high-risk areas.
  • The proposal received support from key stakeholders like the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), with Defra preferring a comprehensive option to permit remote inspections for various licensed movements.

In a bid to streamline the process of granting movement licenses for poultry during Avian Influenza outbreaks, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has revealed significant changes on the horizon. After consultation with industry stakeholders, Defra has decided to amend legislation, allowing remote veterinary inspections using video technology instead of mandatory in-person assessments. This groundbreaking move aims to alleviate resource pressures on local veterinarians and address biosecurity concerns raised by poultry keepers.

Under the current legal framework, the movement of poultry within Avian Influenza Prevention Zones or Surveillance Zones requires licensing from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Specific licenses, notably those for the movement of birds to slaughter, necessitate an on-site veterinary inspection to ascertain the health status of the birds. This practice, while essential for disease control, has posed challenges.

Local veterinary resources often bear a significant burden, particularly in areas experiencing high poultry cases. The continuous need for in-person inspections can strain the availability of qualified veterinarians. Moreover, poultry keepers have expressed concerns regarding biosecurity, as admitting additional personnel onto their premises during outbreaks can introduce unnecessary risks.

Successful trials set the stage

During the 2022/23 Avian Influenza outbreak, the APHA initiated trials of remote veterinary inspections as a potential solution to these challenges. Poultry keepers were allowed to record or live-stream inspections with qualified veterinary inspectors. The success of these trials laid the foundation for Defra’s subsequent decision.

Defra’s proposal received strong support from vital stakeholders, notably the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and other respondents. The NFU, after consultation with its Poultry Board and members, endorsed the move toward remote veterinary inspections. The overarching goal is to reduce pressure on local veterinary resources while safeguarding site biosecurity.

Consultation process: Public opinion heard

The consultation process involved presenting three key options for consideration:

  • Baseline: Maintain the status quo with no provision for remote inspections.
  • Option 1: Permit remote inspections exclusively for the movement of birds to slaughter.
  • Option 2: Amend legislation to enable remote pre-movement inspections for licensed movements, including birds destined for slaughter, brood, and point-of-lay pullets.

Defra’s preference, as indicated, is to adopt Option 2, providing the most comprehensive solution to address the issues at hand.

At present, the NFU awaits further information on the anticipated timescales for implementing these legislative amendments. This development is expected to significantly impact the poultry industry and disease control measures within England.

In its response to the consultation, the NFU emphasized the importance of an approach encompassing Great Britain. Clarity was also sought regarding the implications of these changes in England on poultry and poultry product movements between England, Wales, and Scotland.

Closing of the consultation

The consultation, which aimed to gather insights and opinions on the proposed changes, officially closed on October 31, 2023. During this period, the NFU encouraged its members to participate by providing input through an online form, while respondents also had the option to directly engage with Defra.

Defra’s decision to embrace remote veterinary inspections for AI movement licenses represents a significant stride toward more efficient and adaptable disease control measures. By reducing the reliance on in-person assessments, the burden on local veterinarians is expected to ease, while concerns related to biosecurity during outbreaks are also likely to be mitigated.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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Brenda Kanana

Brenda Kanana is an accomplished and passionate writer specializing in the fascinating world of cryptocurrencies, Blockchain, NFT, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). With a profound understanding of blockchain technology and its implications, she is dedicated to demystifying complex concepts and delivering valuable insights to readers.

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