A re-organization of public agencies advising the British government on farm animal welfare has been announced in the UK as part of the administration’s round of spending cuts to reduce the national debt burden. A decision had already been reached to abolish one panel that has been advising government ministers on matters of animal welfare, but the new announcement says that the separate independent advisory body known as the Farm Animal Welfare Council will be reconstituted in the lesser form of an expert committee.

In existence since 1979, the Farm Animal Welfare Council’s tasks have been to monitor the welfare of animals in the farm-to-food chain and to advise the government of any legislative or other changes that may be necessary.

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Harvey Locke, president of the British Veterinary Association, expressed relief that the welfare council  would not be abolished entirely, but warned that its new committee format must maintain its independence and expertise. “We would be very concerned if this move indicated a downgrading of the importance of farm animal welfare, especially in the current economic climate, which will be pushing farmers to drive down costs on farm,” he added. “FAWC has played an essential role in the way the government thinks about farm animal welfare and has succeeded in challenging both the government and the farming industry on matters of huge importance.”