“Instead of buying cheap imported animal products, which potentially have a big carbon footprint, we’re encouraging retailers and consumers to purchase UK produced, farm quality assured produce.”
Speaking in the REAP keynote panel is Simon Doherty, President of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and champion of One Health, a collaborative approach to improving health and wellbeing, and welfare and productivity. He sees the conference as an opportunity to bring farmers to the table.
“Less and better is a bit counterintuitive in some ways, but it is going to have a direct One Health benefit.” he explains. “We’re not suggesting that Wales produces less lamb, that England and Scotland produce less beef and Northern Ireland produces less dairy, it is about reducing waste and better nutrition.”
One Health approach to antimicrobial resistance
BVA has been instrumental in establishing the UK One Health Coordination Group. Simon outlines that the purpose of One Health is to bring together the triad of human health, animal health and environmental health: “It’s that whole sphere.”
He highlights tackling antimicrobial resistance as one area where the One Health approach has delivered tangible results, leading to a 40% reduction in sales of antibiotics for food-producing animals over the last five years.
Simon explains: “While antimicrobial resistance is perhaps the biggest and most cited example of the need for a One Health approach, another example would be raw milk production.
“In order to be licensed as a raw milk producer the herd needs to be clear of TB. Maintaining this requires a robust farm management and biosecurity plan – the environmental aspect – close monitoring of the animals’ health and, in terms of human health, there’s benefit of consumer choice and well-produced dairy products.”
Benefits for farming
Expanding on the role farmers have to play in the One Health agenda, Simon said:
“Sustainable production – and consumption – of animals and animal products can have a positive impact on animal welfare, and this provides an opportunity to drive consumer demand for healthier, higher welfare products.
“Until now the farming community hasn’t been explicitly part of the UK One Health Coordination Group, but I see the role of farmers, in terms of their buy-in to sustainability and the One Health agenda, is to be very much at the table.”
One Health in Action
The UK One Health Coordination Group, currently chaired by Simon as BVA President, is preparing a One Health in Action report that will give examples of best practice. At REAP 2019, Simon will be sharing some highlights and case-studies from the report, which is due to launch in the Autumn.
He comments: “Support of the farming community is key to progressing One Health. Already, ongoing work by vets, farmers and industry has already led to a 40% reduction in sales of antibiotics over the last five years. We must maintain this joined-up momentum in the face of the ongoing global threat posed by antimicrobial resistance – and build upon current achievements.
“It is about getting the right people coming together and only then will we work out a sensible solution to the challenges we face.”
Integrated approach to help agriculture become sustainable and profitable
This year’s REAP Conference Innovating Towards One Agriculture will explore how an integrated approach to food systems that brings together the environment, humans, animals, soils, society and crops would help agriculture become more productive and sustainable.
REAP 2019 will be held on Wednesday 6 November, 10am – 6pm, at Rowley Mile Conference Centre, Newmarket. Find out more at reapconference.co.uk Bursaries are available to farmers and students studying relevant subjects.