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«Contents Foreword 3 1. Executive Summary 4 1.1. Overview 4 1.2. List of recommended actions 4 2. Introduction 11 2.1. Why we need to protect our Farm ...»

-- [ Page 1 ] --

UK National Action Plan on

Farm Animal Genetic Resources

November 2006

Front Cover Photos:

Top Left: Holstein cattle grazing (Courtesy of Holstein UK).

Top Right: British Milk Sheep halfbred with triplets (Courtesy of Lawrence Alderson).

Bottom Left: Tamworth pig in bracken (Courtesy of Dunlossit Estate, Islay).

Bottom Right: Red Dorking male (Photograph by John Ballard, Courtesy of The Cobthorn Trust).

UK National Action Plan on Farm Animal Genetic Resources November 2006 Presented to Defra and the Devolved Administrations by the National Steering Committee for Farm Animal Genetic Resources UK National Action Plan on Farm Animal Genetic Resources Contents Foreword 3

1. Executive Summary 4

1.1. Overview 4

1.2. List of recommended actions 4

2. Introduction 11

2.1. Why we need to protect our Farm Animal Genetic Resources 11 2.1.1. Economic, social and cultural importance of the UK’s FAnGR 11 2.1.2. International obligation to protect our FAnGR 14 2.1.3. Impact of national policies on the UK’s FAnGR 14

2.2. Why we need a National Action Plan 15

2.3. Structure of the Plan 16

3. What, and where, are our Farm Animal Genetic Resources? 17

3.1. Introduction 17

3.2. Identification of the UK’s Farm Animal Genetic Resources 17 3.2.1. Describing breeding population structures 17 3.2.2. Creating a UK National Breed Inventory 19 3.2.3. Definition of a breed 19 3.2.4. Characterisation 20 3.2.5. Molecular characterisation 21

3.3. Monitoring 21 3.3.1. Monitoring breeds 22 3.3.2. Information Portal 22 3.3.3. Frequency of monitoring and review 23 3.3.4. Breed societies 23 3.3.5. Filling the gaps in quantifying available resources 24 3.3.6. Monitoring geographical distribution 24 3.3.7. Mainstream breed monitoring 25

4. How should we look after and use our FAnGR? 26

4.1. Introduction

–  –  –

Annex 4: Proposed list of data for collection in the Standardised Template 61 Annex 5: Prioritised list of legislation for action related to FAnGR 62

–  –  –

The UK’s Farm Animal Genetic Resources (FAnGR) are of great economic, social and cultural importance. For these reasons alone it is important that we care for them.

Additionally, we have national and international obligations to do so.

We already have a strong tradition of caring for our FAnGR in the UK – thanks largely to the activities of individual breeders, breed societies, charities and non-governmental organisations. However, the threat to our FAnGR is growing, for a variety of reasons, including the spread of relatively few, specialised breeds and the growing economic pressures on primary producers. In a few cases Government policy in other areas, such as in disease control, has led to unintended risks to our FAnGR. So, more needs to be done.

In 2002 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), with contributions from the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD), the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Northern Ireland (DARDNI) and the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG), published the UK Country Report on Farm Animal Genetic Resources. This was the United Kingdom’s official contribution to the FAO’s “First Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources” to be published in 2007 as part of FAO’s Global Strategy.

The Report identified some major gaps in our management of FAnGR, and concluded with strong recommendations that: (i) there should be a National Action Plan for Farm Animal Genetic Resources based on the recommendations in the Report, and (ii) a National Steering Committee on Farm Animal Genetic Resources should be constituted to formulate the Plan and drive it forward.

Both of these recommendations were accepted by the relevant Government Departments. The National Steering Committee on Farm Animal Genetic Resources was established as an ad hoc advisory committee, initially for a two-year period, and the committee met for the first time in January 2004. The membership of the committee is shown in Annex 1. The primary aim of the committee was to produce this National Action Plan (its full remit is shown in Annex 2).

The Plan is intended to build on our strong tradition of non-governmental commitment to protecting our FAnGR. But, there are clearly areas where Government input and resources are needed, both to improve outcomes of Government policies, and to help co-ordinate the activities of others.

We commend this National Action Plan to Ministers in the relevant Government Departments, and look forward to helping Government, industry and other stakeholders with its implementation.

Professor Geoff Simm Chair National Steering Committee on Farm Animal Genetic Resources October 2006 UK National Action Plan on Farm Animal Genetic Resources 1 Executive Summary

1.1 Overview The UK’s Farm Animal Genetic Resources (FAnGR) – its farm animal breeds, strains and varieties, and the variability within them – are of great economic, social and cultural importance.

This National Action Plan has been produced at the request of UK Government rural affairs departments, in response to one of the major recommendations of the UK Country Report on Animal Genetic Resources, published in 2002.





The plan was produced by the National Steering Committee on Farm Animal Genetic Resources, the membership of which is shown in Annex 1.

The Plan considers:

–  –  –

The plan identifies 38 Recommended Actions to help in the protection and sustainable use of our FAnGR, and these are summarised below.

The Plan also refers to web-links within the text (underlined phrases in blue) which are the source of further information or interest. An address list of these links is given in Annex 8, in order of appearance.

1.2 List of Recommended Actions

1. The National Steering Committee should be constituted as a UK standing committee, to provide a permanent forum for advising Government and other stakeholders on issues relating to FAnGR, and to oversee implementation of, and further develop, the National Action Plan.

2. Defra and the Devolved Administrations should commission a series of Breeding Structure Reports for each UK livestock sector, and update these every six years.

3. The existing UK National Breed Database should be upgraded into a web-based UK National Breed Inventory using the European Farm Animal Biodiversity Information System (EFABIS), as appropriate, to ensure compatibility with and links to European and UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Domestic Animal UK National Action Plan on Farm Animal Genetic Resources Diversity Information System (DAD-IS) databases. Clear links with the Livestock Register (and the National Equine Database) in Defra and equivalent databases in the Devolved Administrations should be established.

4. The UK National Co-ordinator, with guidance from the NSC (with additional expertise as necessary), should populate and maintain the UK National Breed Inventory, identifying which breeds should be classified as mainstream or at risk, native, exotic or feral etc. The use of the term breed within the inventory should be consistent with definitions of inter-governmental bodies such as the EU and FAO.

–  –  –

• provide guidance for UK Government on the appropriateness of any proposed EU definition of a breed, and the implications such a definition may have for UK policy, industry activity and FAnGR management; and

• keep under review the scope of the inventory and its use of terms to ensure it is relevant to the management of FAnGR.

5. There is a need for greater, but cost-effective, scientific characterisation of those breeds to be incorporated into the UK National Breed Inventory – e.g.

through EU initiatives and partnership with conservation programmes, but ensuring sound comparisons of resources in the same environment – with

priorities on:

• disease resistance;

• quality of meat and/or other products;

• behavioural or physiological differences leading to increased ‘fitness’ for specific environments or management regimes e.g. conservation grazing.

More research is needed on effective targeting of breed characterisation studies.

6. A short review of molecular characterisation studies on UK livestock should be commissioned, including their adequacy in relation to Molecular Domestic Animal Diversity (MoDAD) procedures and advising on priorities for any future studies. Studies should be commissioned to address the priorities identified.

7. The NSC should oversee the development of a suitable Standardised Template to monitor breeds for incorporation into the National Breed Inventory and ensure that information is collected to help assess the risk posed to our national FAnGR.

8. The NSC should ensure that the GRFA Information Portal being developed by

Defra fulfils the needs of FAnGR stakeholders by:

UK National Action Plan on Farm Animal Genetic Resources

–  –  –

9. The NSC should review and update ‘monitoring data’ in the UK National Breed Inventory in a 3 yearly cycle with sequential reviews of: (i) sheep and goats; (ii) cattle, pigs, and horses; and (iii) poultry.

10. The procedure for obtaining information from breed societies and breeding companies and the content of the information should be reviewed by the NSC, in the light of the needs of the Standardised Template recommended above (Recommended Action 7) and the opportunities offered by the GRFA Information Portal.

11. Breed societies should be encouraged to make all herd and flock books electronic to facilitate the uploading of monitoring information, as defined in the Standardised Template, to the National Breed Inventory via the GRFA Information Portal.

12. Procedures for quantifying resources not included within herd and flock books should be formalised by the NSC.

–  –  –

14. Industry and Government stakeholders should work together: (i) to improve the recording of livestock breed data before finalising the requirements of the Livestock Register, and (ii) to speed the development of routine linking (through common formats for animals and holdings) of key databases containing information important for the sustainable management of the UK’s FAnGR.

UK National Action Plan on Farm Animal Genetic Resources

15. The prioritisation of native breeds for conservation should continue as at present, but exotic breeds in the UK which are extinct in their country of origin and severely endangered globally, or which make an important economic contribution to UK agriculture, may also need conservation action. More work is needed to identify exotic FAnGR that fall into these categories.

16. Defra and the Devolved Administrations should commission a cost-benefit analysis of FAnGR to the rural economy. The study should be steered by NSC, link to that in Recommended Action 19, and include the roles of FAnGR of all farmed species in agribusiness, leisure and tourism. The results should be used as a guide to prioritisation for conservation action.

17. The NSC should establish and keep under review the thresholds and priority levels for conservation action of breeds using scientifically robust criteria, further developing these as necessary. Thresholds for geographical concentration, local adaptation and breed distinctiveness, including use of other breeds or strains, need to be more clearly defined.

18. We recommend that the NSC should advise on strategies for genetic conservation actions as part of risk management in mainstream breeds, and highlight corrective actions that may be needed in mainstream breeds or strains where selection strategies appear to be producing unfavourable consequences for health, welfare or ‘fitness’ of animals.

19. A project – to be steered by the NSC – should be commissioned to develop a co-ordinated in situ and ex situ National FAnGR Conservation Strategy for breeds at risk, and mainstream breeds that qualify for priority action, taking into account the conservation work already being carried out by NGOs and breed societies. The project should include an evaluation of the costs and benefits of alternative approaches, and link with Recommended Action 16.

20. Defra and the Devolved Administrations should identify opportunities within existing and developing national and EU legislation, such as European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), to encourage the use of FAnGR that are fit for purpose in delivering complementary policy objectives. “Stand alone” genetic resource measures to support owners of at-risk FAnGR who do not qualify for any other complementary scheme should also be considered (see Recommended Action 29).

21. The NSC, with other partners and external communications expertise, should

develop a Communication Plan to:

• create wide awareness of the information resources available on FAnGR; and

• develop future FAnGR information provision in a way that is most helpful to decision-makers.

UK National Action Plan on Farm Animal Genetic Resources

22. The NSC should identify and publicise ‘success stories’ where commercial activities (e.g. speciality food marketing) or environmental management programmes have been developed around the use of non-mainstream FAnGR.

23. The NSC should seek resources to develop and repackage material on the GRFA Information Portal to facilitate its use in schools, colleges and universities, as part of taught courses, or via distance learning. The material should be updated regularly. The availability of this material should then be publicised widely.

24. The NSC should work with industry stakeholders to identify a programme of relevant training courses relating to FAnGR, to identify possible funding opportunities to develop such courses, and to identify appropriate groups to deliver them.



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