Twenty-nine Welsh Assembly Members have signed a letter to Michael Gove outlining their concerns about the feared impact of Brexit on the veterinary workforce in Wales.
The cross-party mix of AMs – over 60 per cent of the total of non-ministerial members – have joined forces to ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to take urgent action to get vets reinstated on the Shortage Occupation List.
The letter is being sent amid growing concerns that Wales could see a serious shortfall in the capacity of its veterinary workforce post-Brexit. Nearly a quarter of vets working in Wales are non-UK EU nationals, but this figure rises to 100 per cent when applied to Official Veterinarians (OVs) carrying out essential work to ensure that high standards of health and welfare are maintained at every stage in Welsh abattoirs.
Plaid Cymru AM and British Veterinary Association Honorary Associate Llyr Gruffydd has been at the forefront of rallying other assembly members to support the campaign. He said: “We’re asking Michael Gove to support BVA’s call to reinstate vets on the Shortage Occupation List, to ensure that we avoid a potentially problematic shortfall in capacity post-Brexit.
“There is a very real danger that, without positive action, the food chain will be left exposed to an increased risk of food fraud and animal welfare breaches at a time when it has never been more imperative to preserve high levels of consumer confidence in UK produce, both at home and overseas.”
Sarah Carr, BVA Welsh Branch President, said: “The fact that so many Assembly Members from a mix of parties have signed this letter shows that there is significant and unified recognition of the valuable contribution that vets make in Wales, along with understanding of the need to support and champion the profession in the challenging times ahead.
“We’re immensely grateful to Llyr for his continued support, as well as all the other assembly members who have added their voice to call for urgent action to ensure that the workforce can operate at full strength over the coming years.”