The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has published a new blueprint, designed to simplify international trade in live animals and animal products from Britain.

The association has set out a series of recommendations for decision makers in both the UK and EU, which is – it is believed – aimed at simplifying processes. 

The position paper considers a number of key areas such as: making better use of veterinary workforce capacity; exploring a greater support role for allied professionals working alongside vets; and fast-tracking the digitisation of certification processes. 

It represents the culmination of several years of the BVA exploring and engaging with the profession, farmers, governments and the food industry on these issues.

The BVA has previously warned that soaring demand post-Brexit for export health certificates, coupled with existing capacity shortfalls, could create major issues for the profession.

To ease the burden on the workforce, and make best use of existing resource, the BVA is calling on Westminster to collaborate with stakeholders on a strategy that ensures that the UK has the necessary veterinary capacity and capability to facilitate international trade and carry out other essential work. 

It is also recommending that the government explore opportunities for making better use of allied professionals, such as certification support officers, for aiding the process under the direction of veterinary teams.

As well as easing pressures on a stretched workforce, the new blueprint also recommends a series of measures to simplify the process of veterinary certification while still providing the level of assurance required by global markets. 

The BVA is calling for vets and businesses to have clear guidance to support a move to digital processes.

The organisation also wants the UK government to give more time to exploring the benefits of remote certification and third-party attestations (where a qualified professional can give assurances, based on guidance, ahead of a vet signing off on a product) for low-risk products.

The BVA’s position also recognises the need for strong collaboration between the UK and EU to drive efficiencies and positive outcomes.  It recommends that the UK government engages vets, farmers and processors in identifying opportunities to simplify trade requirements.

Justine Shotton, BVA President, commented:

 In launching our position paper we’re bringing together the collective wisdom of many people working within and alongside the veterinary profession to keep trade running smoothly and to high health, welfare and safety standards.” 

She added:

“We want to see the UK and EU working together closely to grasp the opportunities ahead, as well as acknowledging and ironing out some of the considerable issues we face in terms of capacity and making the most of existing resource.

“The UK government is making some welcome steps in the right direction to maximise resource and make systems more efficient, including introducing a certification support officer role and putting digitisation high on the agenda.”

Shotton concluded:

“Going forward into what is new and uncharted territory, it’s vital that they continue to engage closely with vets, who are so central to the process and our future success on the global stage.”