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BVA President calls for vets to be at the heart of food supply chain initiatives

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THE importance of the relationship between animal owners and their vets should never be underestimated, Robin Hargreaves, the BVA President, told politicians and other guests at the BVA's annual dinner in Northern Ireland last week.

Noting that the theme for his year as president would be ‘trust’, Mr Hargreaves said that veterinary professionals were afforded a certain status in society, as a result of generations of veterinary surgeons being entrusted with the lives of people's well-loved pets and prized livestock. Today's veterinary surgeons followed a long line of vets who could always be trusted to take an honest, practical and scientific approach to any scenario, he said.

For these reasons, he argued, vets should be at the heart of current initiatives to significantly expand the food sector in Northern Ireland. The BVA had warmly welcomed the publication of the Agri-Food Strategy Board's report ‘Going for growth, investing in success’, which set out ambitious targets for strengthening Northern Ireland's food supply chain. The key recommendations included the elimination of animal disease, doubling the drawdown of European funding for agri-food innovation and promoting improved animal health, welfare and biosecurity.

Before the Northern Ireland dinner, the BVA President, Robin Hargreaves, and the president of the BVA's Northern Ireland Branch, Sandra Dunbar (left), met with Michelle O'Neill, Northern Ireland's minister for agriculture and rural development, to discuss some of the issues raised by Mr Hargreaves in his speech and to stress the importance of the veterinary profession in achieving many of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's objectives

‘Yes, it's ambitious,’ Mr Hargreaves said. ‘But it's also achievable as long as we have a strong network of veterinary practices and a commitment to veterinary-led research. Vets play a pivotal role in the management of …

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