Select Committee on Agriculture Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the British Cattle Veterinary Association (F 24)


  1.  The British Cattle Veterinary Association is a specialist division of the British Veterinary Association. We have some 1,600 members, mostly veterinary surgeons with a special interest in cattle health and welfare. We are very pleased to have been invited to provide information for your investigation. See Annex A.

  2.  In the light of the recent, rapid growth in organic beef and dairy production in the UK, the BCVA is keen to become involved in the development and review of organic livestock production standards in order to ensure sustainable animal welfare and disease control.

  3.  The BCVA is also keen to provide training for its members in the organic livestock production requirements to ensure that the BCVA membership is fully informed and therefore capable of providing services to their clients who choose to convert to organic production methods.

  4.  In the past, the BCVA has been involved in the development of the organic standards by submitting comments on the interpretation and implementation of the European Livestock Regulation No 1804/1999 via the Organic Livestock Standards Liaison Group. See Annex B.

  5.  The BCVA:

    —  accepts the organic production standards as having the potential to become a valid and sustainable farm assurance scheme;

    —  wants to support the BCVA members in providing services for farmers who choose to produce under the organic standards; and

    —  recognises that the organic livestock production standards have a great potential to enhance both animal health and welfare at farm level.

  6.  However, we would like to point out a few key areas about which we are concerned:

    —  Some aspects of the organic standards cause disquiet in relation to disease control and animal welfare. See Annex C.

    —  Public health issues should be of particular concern on organic farms. In the absence of routine vaccination and prophylactic use of antibiotics, disease monitoring must be the cornerstone of its control. This is not implicit in the standards and should receive more attention. The BCVA has experience in the creating of strategic herd health plans in association with comprehensive monitoring programmes. A copy of the BCVA Herd Health Plan is available on request.

    —  Although there is published evidence from human medicine that alternative therapy using homeopathy is beneficial there have been few research studies in the veterinary field. Further research is necessary to demonstrate any benefits or otherwise some of the alternative or complementary treatments recommended by the organic standards and sector bodies. In the meantime whilst homeopathy does not produce residues at therapeutic potencies the use of alternative therapies should be guided by caution with regard to residues and side-effects and all therapies be assessed on the basis of providing best treatment in order to avoid suffering.

  7.  The BCVA wishes to emphasis its willingness to help its members meet the challenge that the organic livestock production standards apply to the veterinary care of animals managed under such systems. The BCVA believes that the veterinary profession has valuable expertise to offer to organic livestock producers in terms of skills in preventive veterinary medicine, knowledge of disease control together with an understanding of animal welfare issues.

Martin Grundy
Chairman, Organics Group
9 June 2000

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