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As a long established veterinary practice specialising in the care of game birds, we have seen a further reduction in the use of avian antibiotics as a result of last Summer’s benign weather.
While this is excellent news for the shooting industry, it is clear that we are facing challenges and threats to our sport on many fronts. I am pleased to be fighting those threats through being on the British Game Alliance (BGA) Board of Directors.
The BGA has made enormous strides in its first year. Its principal objectives are to ensure there is a growing market for shot game and to bring in achievable, yet credible, levels of self-regulation.
Already 400 shoots have joined the BGA, both small and large, meaning it is well on the way to its target of 500 by the end of April 2019. At the same time, the BGA’s efforts to open new – and expand existing – markets for game are bearing fruit. Hundreds of outlets are now stocking game, and their consumer facing campaign Eat Wild (www.eat-wild.co.uk) is now in full swing. It has also gained support from all the shooting organisations, as well as DEFRA and FSA.
It won’t happen overnight, but the foundations are being laid for a secure national game market. This initiative represents us all, so we need to work together under one united umbrella. We need to demonstrate to politicians and opponents alike that we are capable of meaningful self-regulation.
Our Quality Assurance Scheme is the perfect opportunity to do so and should be embraced by all. We are the only unregulated food producing sector left and to think this doesn’t affect us all is madness. With an audited, best practice approach in exactly the same way the Red Tractor Assurance Scheme regulates the farming industry, we can continue to enjoy our sport on our own terms.
Audits only last three hours, with 33% of shoots being audited in year one. If a shoot fails to meet the pre-determined standards, the auditors will work with you to get it right, rather than remove you from the BGA.
Of course, all of this needs funding. Membership costs are tiered and relate to the size of shoot, but I hope you can join and be part of a sustainable future.
The threat to our sport should not be underestimated. As the Rt Hon Richard Benyon MP succinctly said: “From where I sit in Parliament, I really feel shooting is in the last chance saloon. I am getting a little weary of a small number of those I talk to in the shooting world who think everything somehow will be alright. I can tell you it won’t. I really hope that if there are still some who think that ‘it does not really affect me’, that they soon get the message that the BGA is a lifeline for all – yes, all – who love our sport.”
I hope you can be part of a sustainable future by joining the BGA today: