Animal health and welfare

Animal health and animal welfare are important issues for Dutch dairy farmers. Lots of time, energy, and money are invested in programs to propel the health status of Dutch dairy cattle to an even higher level.

These programs are all based on the very sophisticated Identification and Registration (I&R) system, that makes lifetime tractability possible.

This means that in case of a disease outbreak, it is possible to trace animals and their contacts, identify where contamination might have taken place, etc., within a very short period of time.

This I&R system is also of great importance for the veterinary and zootechnic guarantees that are required when exporting live breeding cattle, semen, and embryos.

While animal health crises will always recur, evaluation highlighted the need to focus policy more on disease prevention and effective risk management.

Recent international developments clearly show that the emphasis is shifting away from crisis response to building systems and capacity to prevent and respond to future outbreaks of infectious diseases more effectively.

The key issue is how to build a more robust animal health system, based on good governance and compliant with international (e.g. OIE) standards, with a shift from short-term to long-term intervention, while facilitating a multi-sectoral approach and partnerships with all relevant stakeholders.

Another challenge is to reduce the impact of animal diseases as far as possible by enhancing disease awareness, preparedness, surveillance and emergency response systems at national and EU level. In particular, to what extent should these activities be governed by EU legislation and be complemented by Member States’ legislation or by non-legislative tools?

In this context a number of issues have been identified. Some relate to the general policy approach, others to specific legal acts/diseases. Some are meant to be addressed by stakeholders as part of their responsibility to prevent animal diseases, others relate to the EU and competent authorities’ responsibilities.

To ensure that all the relevant stakeholders act appropriately to prevent disease, responsibilities have to be clarified, training should be encouraged and incentives should be provided.

For more information on animal diseases click here.