Penrith And The Borders MP Urges Farmers To Take Advantage Of The SFI Annual Health and Welfare Review

The only Veterinary Surgeon in the Commons, Dr Neil Hudson MP for Penrith and The Border, has endorsed the Government’s rollout of an annual funded vet review to improve farm animal health and welfare in England. 

Following a Government review, farmers who keep cattle, sheep and pigs can benefit from funding to pay for an annual vet visit.

Taking around 2-3 hours this can be done at the livestock owner’s convenience and can be carried out by a vet or vet led team of their choice.

The scheme is known as The SFI Annual Health and Welfare Review, and those interested can already apply.

Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border, said: “This is a brilliant example of Government working closely with a specific industry to create tailor-made policy that will do an immense amount of public good.

“Providing public money for public goods is the right and proper direction for policy makers to be taking and, as all of us know in rural Britain, animal health and welfare is definitely a public good.

“Having seen first-hand the devastation that animal-disease outbreaks can wreak on rural communities during my time as a Veterinary Inspector during the Foot and Mouth Crisis, I full endorse this move that will reduce diseases, employ preventative veterinary medicine and give us clear data to form a national picture of animal health.

“I’d urge farmers to take advantage of the scheme and keep providing feedback so we can always improve. Thanks once again to all involved in this.”

Each veterinary visit will be different and can focus on specific local needs.

These can range from carrying out diagnostic testing for diseases and discussing medicine use to agreeing achievable actions for the year ahead and making sure livestock owners understand the specific animal health and welfare challenges they may face.

The rollout will reduce endemic diseases, improve the welfare of animals, increase productivity and make sure the use of veterinary medicines and vaccines is appropriate. 

Moreover, anonymised data will be collected so decision makers can better understand national herd/flock health. Farmers should note this will not be used for future inspections or enforcement purposes.  

With ongoing reforms to farm systems following the UK leaving the EU, the annual vet visit represents the first phase of the Government’s Animal Health and Welfare Pathway which aims to push forward and support the gradual and continual improvement in farm animal health and welfare. 

The scheme has been steadily trialled on a select number of farms since September 2022 and will continue to make improvements over time using feedback from farmers and industry experts.

The next steps include widening eligibility to more farmers, include other livestock and move to a direct application system.

Initial payment rates mirror diagnostic test costs and will be: 

  • £684 for pigs  
  • £436 for sheep  
  • £522 for beef cattle  
  • £372 for dairy cattle  

To sign up:  

The first step for livestock owners is to register their interest here:

It should only take around 5 minutes.  

Please note eligibility criteria apply, for instance the paid vet visit will initially only be available to farmers eligible for Basic Payment Scheme and who keep more than 50 pigs, 20 sheep or 10 cattle. Please read the criteria fully before applying.