Local MP Rory Stewart has been on a fact-finding visit to the Animal Plant and Health Agency’s Plumpton premises near Penrith in his constituency, to see at first-hand the important work that the agency does in safeguarding animal and plant health for the benefit of the population, the environment, and the economy. He praised their work into world-class research and development into a broad range of animal and plant health issues, key to protecting and strengthening the rural economy both locally and nationally. It is an agency of DEFRA, the government department in which Rory is a Minister.

Responsible for identifying and controlling endemic and exotic diseases, and monitoring new and emerging pests, the APHA also undertakes vital scientific research into bacterial and parasitic diseases, ensuring the higher welfare of animals and the improvement of plant varieties. It protects wildlife through licensing and registration, manages a program of apiary inspections and diagnostics, and regulates the safe disposal of animal by-products to reduce the risk of contamination.

The APHA premises at Plumpton employ around 30 local staff members, and performs a crucial role within the national network of over 2,000 staff across a number of sites, head-quartered in Weybridge.

Rory said: “APHA performs a hugely important role in the optimising of farming and food security. They fulfill a really crucial role behind the scenes, and their work shows how incredibly complex the industry is; it is not merely about the products we buy and consume daily and see on our shelves, but about strengthening the security and safety of the industry, ensuring that we have some of the cleanest, healthiest and safest environments in which to farm and to run our rural economy. I was enormously grateful for this behind-the-scenes look at the APHA’s work, and would like to thank them for sharing their knowledge with me today.”

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