Northern Ireland's Future Agricultural Policy Framework Portfolio misses an opportunity to capitalise on the expertise of local vets, the British Veterinary Association has warned.

The BVA has called on the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to put vets and the vet-farmer relationship at the heart of future farming policy, explaining vets can help farmers meet several of the key goals outlined.

'Vets have a valuable part to play'

The new portfolio, launched this week (August 24) by Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots, sets out a wide-ranging vision for the future direction of farming support in Northern Ireland. It sets out key outcomes around productivity, sustainability, resilience and supply chain functionality.

However, the BVA voiced its disappointment that the document makes no mention of the role of the veterinary profession in helping to achieve these goals.

The organisation, which represents 18,000 veterinary professionals across the UK, had fed into the original future farming consultation and recommended that vets should be referenced because of the integral role they play in securing positive outcomes for animal health and welfare and public health.

BVA NI branch president Mark Little said: “We’re pleased that the minister recognises that our future agricultural regime must promote animal health and welfare and public health, but it’s disappointing that this week’s portfolio makes no mention of the role of the veterinary profession in achieving this.

An opportunity has been missed to capture from the outset the central role of veterinary expertise in achieving the stated aims of increasing productivity, enhancing environmental protection, and improving resilience.

“Agriculture faces unprecedented challenges, but we should all be seizing the chance to help shape a positive future, and it’s essential that vets and the vet-farmer relationship are at the heart of it.

"We have fed back our initial views to DAERA, and will ensure that the valuable part that vets have to play in making this vision a reality comes through strongly when we respond to the forthcoming public consultation.”