Michael Seals has been appointed as the Chair of the new Animal Health and Welfare Board for England (AHWBE), Agriculture and Food Minister Jim Paice announced today.
Mr Seals is a livestock and arable farmer who was responsible for the establishment of the National Fallen Stock Company. He served as a member of a sub group of the Responsibility and Cost Sharing Advisory Group and has held a number of chair and committee positions, including within the NFU.
Welcoming this appointment, Mr Paice said:
“This is a completely new way of working, giving real influence those who are doing the work on the ground. We need a strong Chair of the AHWBE for it to work successfully, and I welcome this first crucial step in putting in place the new structures needed to help us work more closely with industry and stakeholders.
“Michael’s appointment puts us in a strong position to face the challenges of delivering high standards of animal health and welfare in England and the competitiveness of our industry. I look forward to working with him.”
The Animal Health and Welfare Board for England 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.
The AHWBE will hold its first meeting towards the end of 2011. Michael Seals will form part of the selection panel for other external board members who are expected to be appointed in October.
Michael Seals MBE farms 250 acres arable with a pedigree South Devon herd in South Derbyshire. He is Chairman of the National Fallen Stock Company, Director of the East Midlands Development Agency and Chairman of the National Register of Sprayer Operators. Michael has previously been a trustee of the British Horse Society, sat on the NFU Council and was Chairman of the NFU National Food Standards Committee.
The appointment process followed the principles set by the Independent Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments.
The Terms of Reference for the Board can be found at www.defra.gov.uk/ahwbe/.
The independent Responsibility and Cost Sharing Advisory group report can be found at http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/policy/animalhealth/sharing/pdf/rcsag-report101213.pdf.
The Board will have to communicate with industry to ensure all stakeholders are considered in the Board’s decision-making process.
The Board will not be responsible for animal experimentation, or the welfare of circus and zoo animals other than where a disease risk is present.
Since the Foot and Mouth disease outbreak in 2001 the Government has worked more and more closely with farming and veterinary industry in tackling disease outbreaks. For example, the close partnership working between Government and industry was key in successfully addressing the outbreaks of bluetongue virus (BTV) in GB. Our recent surveillance has confirmed that we have now had 2 years without circulating BTV in GB, and we hope to be able to move towards official BTV8 free status in the near future.
Animal health and welfare is a devolved policy, and the Board covers England only. The Government recently devolved the animal health and welfare budget for England, Scotland and Wales www.defra.gov.uk/news/2011/03/14/ahw-budgets.