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BVA appoints chairman of new Veterinary Development Council


The veterinary profession is taking the lead on shaping the future of large animal veterinary practice with the appointment of Professor Richard Bennett as the independent chairman of the newly-established Veterinary Development Council.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has announced the appointment of Professor Bennett, Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Reading, ahead of its annual Congress to be held in Glasgow from 23 to 25 September.

The concept of the Veterinary Development Council (VDC) was recommended in Professor Philip Lowes report Unlocking Potential: A report on veterinary expertise in food animal production, which was published in August 2009.

Professor Lowe chaired the Vets and Veterinary Services Working Group which investigated concerns regarding the reducing number of veterinary graduates entering large animal practice and the potential impact of this on the food supply chain and public health.

The BVA has established the VDC to take forward some of Professor Lowes findings and aims to produce specific action points within a 12-month period. The VDC will hold its first meeting in January 2011 and will include a very wide range of stakeholders involved in the food supply chain in order to define the role of the veterinary surgeon in the food chain.

Further meetings will be held to focus on the outputs of the first meeting and develop specific actions.

Commenting on his appointment, Professor Bennett said:

The initial aim of the Veterinary Development Council is to explore and define the market for farm animal veterinary services in the UK, considering both supply and demand.

Ultimately I want the VDC to identify ways in which the veterinary profession might need to develop to ensure it remains thriving and provides the necessary expertise, goods and services that its clients, and society more generally, needs.

In order to do this we need to consult widely with stakeholders involved throughout the food supply chain. I sincerely hope that the widest range of stakeholders will become fully engaged in helping the VDC to achieve its aims.

Professor Bill Reilly, President of the BVA, added:

I am delighted that Professor Bennett has accepted our invitation to become chairman of the Veterinary Development Council and we are grateful to Defra for providing some funding towards his appointment.

Professor Bennett brings a unique economic perspective to this issue and an excellent understanding of many veterinary and farm animal issues.

I echo his plea for stakeholders to get on board with the VDC so that we can secure the future of high quality veterinary services for the benefit of farming and rural communities and of course public health.

1. Richard Bennett is Professor of Agricultural Economics in the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading and has a particular interest in the economics and policy of animal health and welfare on which he has researched and written extensively. He was a member of the England Implementation Group of the governments Animal Health and Welfare Strategy from 2005-2009 and is currently a member of the GB Farm Animal Welfare Council (where he is Chair of the Ethics, Economics, Education and Regulation Standing Committee). He is also a trustee of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, the Humane Slaughter Association and the Farm Animal Welfare Trust.

2. Professor Lowes report Unlocking Potential is available on the Defra website: The BVA response to the report is available on the BVA website:

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