Gove faces challenge over vets in Wales

Plaid Cymru AM Llyr Gruffydd has challenged UK minister Michael Gove to come clean about vets from Europe being able to continue working in Wales after Brexit.

The call comes as both men attend the Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wells today (Tuesday, July 24).

Mr Gruffydd, who represents the North Wales region in the Assembly, said: “It’s now almost a month since I and 28 other AMs wrote to Michael Gove, the UK minister with responsibility in this field. We wrote in support of the British Veterinary Association’s call to reinstate vets on the Shortage Occupation List, to ensure that we avoid a potentially problematic shortfall in capacity post-Brexit.

“Nearly a quarter of vets working in Wales are from non-UK EU countries and face uncertainty in the coming years.  The issue is particularly acute in abattoirs as we understand that this figure rises to 100 per cent when applied to Official Veterinarians (OVs). These are carrying out essential work to ensure that high standards of health and welfare are maintained at every stage in abattoirs.

“A survey revealed that 44 per cent of these EU vets saying that they are ‘fearful for their future’ and one in five is actively looking for work outside the UK. There is therefore 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.

“I’m calling on the minister here in Builth today to be honest with vets and the wider agricultural and food industry – he hasn’t answered elected members from Wales. Perhaps he’ll answer the wider public.”

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