Farmers to access new funds through the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway

Monday, 13 November 2023

Farmers are experiencing the most rapid period of change in 50 years. To remain profitable in these challenging times, farm businesses need to adapt. In England, policy changes – removal of Direct Payments and phasing in of new policies under the Agricultural Transition Plan – will see public money used to deliver public goods.

The repositioned funding aims to benefit animal health and welfare, farm productivity, food security, public health, UK trade and the environment.

The Animal Health and Welfare Pathway is a long-term, project partnership, co-designed by government and industry, across cattle (beef and dairy), sheep, pig and poultry (layer and broiler) sectors to support continual improvement in health and welfare.

The first of four steps were launched in February 2023 to provide farmers in England with a fully funded vet visit.

Step 1: The annual health and welfare review

As of Februrary 2023, farmers are eligible for a fully funded, annual farm visit from their own vet for up to three years. Initially available for cattle, sheep and pig farmers who are eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), it is now open to all farmers in England who have:

  • 11 or more beef cattle
  • 11 or more dairy cattle
  • 21 or more sheep
  • 51 or more pigs

The Review will fulfil the requirements for obtaining a Vet Attestation Number (VAN), should your abattoir or processor exports products of animal to the EU and require this. The VAN process replaces the previous temporary farmer declaration.

Learn more about Veterinary Attestation Numbers

Future developments for the Review are in the pipeline and may include the option for farmers to have more than one Review each year if they keep:

  • More than one species
  • Multiple herds and flocks of the same species

Industry agreed payment rates, per review, include testing for priority diseases.

Annual review Review payment Review includes test for Priority diseases
Sheep £436 Anthelmintic resistance Range of diseases and conditions
Beef cattle £522 Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) BVD
Dairy cattle £372 Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) BVD
Pigs £684 Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) PRRS

How to apply for an annual health and welfare review of livestock

Video: how to complete an application form and submit a claim

Video: what will happen during your Annual Health and Welfare Review?

Step 2: Capital grants

Since March 2023, farmers have been able to apply for grants to co-fund capital investments that support key health and welfare priorities.

Farmers can agree with their vet the most appropriate investments for their farm and animals.

  • Small grants – selected from a list of equipment and technology items
  • Larger grants – for new housing, building upgrades and pasture improvements

Further details are available on the Government Farming Investment Fund webpages, with updates provided through Defra’s farming blog.

Step 3: Disease eradication control programmes

From 2024, a financial support package will be available to farmers to help prevent and reduce priority diseases.

Step 4: Payment-by-results

Payment-by-results will reward farmers who demonstrate high health and welfare outcomes in herds and flocks. Trials are likely to take place in 2024, with a possible rollout in 2025.

Cattle vet Jonathan Statham, who has worked with the team developing the Pathway said:

“The Pathway is all about the farmer’s own vet working with the farmer on an individual farm basis. So, if you are sheep, cattle, pigs or mixed, if you are farm assured, if you are non-farm assured, we will have a format that covers your farm’s needs.”

The Animal Health and Welfare Pathway forms part of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) supporting:

  • Sustainable food production founded on high welfare
  • Disease prevention
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Reduced GHG emissions

Find out more about the Sustainable Farming Incentive and further funding opportunities

Explore the Government’s Animal Health and Welfare Pathway Programme

Image of staff member Lis King

Lis King

Animal Health & Welfare Senior Scientist

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