There is more optimism than pessimism in the animal health industry over the UK’s prospects post Brexit, but most are still undecided about the impact on the sector’s future. This is the conclusion of trade association the National Office of Animal Health (NOAH)’s first Brexit Barometer report.

 The findings, from NOAH’s Brexit Taskforce and a Brexit workshop event involving NOAH members16 industry bodies, show 35% feel optimistic, 25% pessimistic 40% ‘somewhere in the middle’. The association concludes “optimism through a collaborative relationship with the Government becomes fundamental to the future success of the industry”.

The workshop and a follow-up survey examined the impact of leaving the EU on the sector under six different headings: animal health and welfare; public health and food production; post-licensing controls for the overall market; R&D and innovation; bringing new products to market and trade and investment.

There was more optimism on the first three of these, with uncertainty over future R&D and commercialisation of new products and the most pessimism around prospects for trade and exports in relation to animal health. In each category, NOAH suggests opportunities that Brexit could bring, and the support needed from government to deliver them.

“People are ready to embrace Brexit, providing our needs are recognised,” observes NOAH chief executive Dawn Howard. “This is promising given the scale of the task ahead of us and the need to work collaboratively to deliver the opportunities that we have identified. We look forward to working closely with our members, stakeholders and Government as negotiations unfold in the coming weeks and months.”

Neil Parish MP, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) select committee at the House of Commons, spoke at the NOAH workshop event. “Brexit will affect us all and the process will not be simple, he says. “The animal medicines industry plays a vital role in supporting the health and welfare of the animals that produce food from UK farms and the pets that share our homes.  Government will need to work closely with the sector to address issues ranging from building on the UK’s existing high standards of animal welfare and protecting against a post-Brexit labour shortage, to ensuring that innovative medicines and vaccines can continue to be brought to the UK market through appropriate regulation and trading agreements between the UK and the EU.

“The results of this initial report very clearly illustrate that the future of the industry lies very much in the balance and steering it towards optimism and success is our main priority as we take on the challenges that lie ahead.”

 Future NOAH Brexit reports will track shifting sentiment as the Brexit process unfolds. The 6 page report is available via: https://www.noah.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/NOAH-Brexit-Barometer-Summer-17-6pp-A4-vf.pdf