Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Healthy option to keep industry fit for future growth

‘Future proofing’ is a phrase often lauded in business and industry to help ensure enduring success and profitability.

In this respect the beef and lamb sector is no different to any other enterprise but, unlike many other industries, the beef and lamb and other livestock sectors face the monumental challenge of keeping one step ahead of the potentially devastating effects of animal disease.

BSE and Foot-and-Mouth (FMD) crises live long in the memory, not least because of the emotional and financial devastation caused. And while the industry is going through somewhat of a purple patch, animal health should remain high on the agenda to help ensure everything stays rosy in the beef and lamb sector garden.

EBLEX sector director Nick Allen highlighted the issue at the recent annual conference, stressing the need for the livestock industry to think more carefully about animal health if it’s to continue to benefit from current high prices. Warning against complacency, he said disease had upset the markets in the past and that the industry needed to protect itself against future shocks, citing previous devastating effects of both bluetongue and FMD.

Of course disease has no respect for international boundaries. It’s encouraging to see then that the EU has just earmarked more than €203million to support programmes to eradicate, control and monitor animal diseases and zoonoses – infectious diseases that can be transmitted to humans from animals. The aim is to further strengthen the protection of human and animal health in 2012.

The decision was taken by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH). Member states also unanimously endorsed Commission proposals to contribute €11.5million for the emergency measures and vaccination plans taken to combat some animal diseases over the last four years.

Overall 138 annual or multi-annual programmes have been selected for EU funding to tackle animal diseases that impact on human and animal health and trade. The lion’s share of earmarked funds - €65million - will finance bovine TB programmes in five member states.

The €11.5million in support of emergency measures will include €1.95million for bluetongue in Germany and around €4million for bluetongue emergency vaccination in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Sweden, Italy and France.

The EU has also granted a financial contribution of €890,000 to support Bulgaria for measures such as surveillance, database, information campaigns, laboratories and disinfection in a bid to control the spread of FMD among wild animals in the south east of the country.

So it certainly appears that the wider industry is thinking along the same lines, making all the right noises to keep animal health high on the agenda and diseases at bay. As we’ve said though eyes can’t be taken off the ball. Yes, the industry is enjoying a resurgence which we all welcome but, to quote Thomas Edison ‘We shall have no better conditions in the future if we are satisfied with all those which we have at present’.

  • The principles of the EU strategy on animal diseases can be viewed by clicking here.