The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announced today the creation of a new Animal Health and Welfare Board which will

bring experts including farmers, veterinarians, welfare experts and others from outside Government together with the Chief Veterinary Officer and civil servants to make direct policy recommendations on policy affecting the health and welfare of all kept animals such as farm animals, horses and pets.

DEFRA states the board will be made up of

around 12 members, 5 senior Defra officials including the Chief Veterinary Officer, and 7-8 external members including the chair. The external members will have experience and knowledge of kept and farmed animals, animal and veterinary science, and animal welfare, and could be farmers, veterinarians, animal welfare experts.

With the announcement only being made this morning there has not been sufficient time to study the proposals for the new board. A quick read suggests, however, that the term of reference for “animal welfare” is meant only in the context of the continuing instrumental use of animals and not in their ethical and legal status. In this context, today’s announcement is not necessarily anything significantly new.

Regardless, this development will be a significant factor in animal welfare public education campaigns and public policy initiatives for the foreseeable future.

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