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This article is the second in a series of discussion articles produced for Veterinary Record by a group of social scientists and historians drawn together by Philip Lowe, author of the 2009 report ‘Unlocking potential: a report on veterinary expertise in food animal production’. The articles reflect on some of the challenges for the profession posed in his report and aim to stimulate debate about the wider role of vets in relation to government and society. Previous articles in the series are listed on p 329
In the second of a series of articles reflecting on issues raised in the 2009 Lowe report on veterinary expertise in food animal production, Gareth Enticott, Philip Lowe and Katy Wilkinson discuss how extension of the political ideology known as neoliberalism is refashioning the veterinary profession in relation to food and farming, in both the UK and elsewhere
WHEN Animal Health announced its intention last year to put bovine TB testing out to competitive tender, the uproar within the veterinary profession was hardly surprising. Rural vets, who in many areas of the UK have come to rely on the revenue from such testing, expressed alarm at the threat to the viability of their businesses. They warned of a deterioration not only in rural veterinary services but also in national biosecurity, due to the loss of passive surveillance and of a flexible workforce willing to step in at a moment's notice to help in the event of a national emergency such as the 2001 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.
Yet the proposal itself was no surprise either, nor are the changes it could bring to veterinary work. Over the past several years, government has been seeking to renegotiate the terms on which it engages with veterinarians in the farming and food sectors, as part of its …