Established 1870
A Division of the British Veterinary Association

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Minutes of a General Meeting of the Society held on Thursday 3rd March 2005 at the Farmers' Club, 3 Whitehall Court, London, SW1A 2EL.

Present:  the President Mr. B. Hoskin and 19 Fellows and guests.

Apologies for absence had been received from 22 Fellows.

Minutes of the meeting held on 20th January 2005 had been circulated and were approved.

Matters arising:  none.

Correspondence:  Mr. Herbert reported receiving a letter from Mr. L. R. Thomsett, tendering his resignation as a trustee of the McCunn Trust, having served since the Trust was founded.  The President and Fellows recorded their sincere thanks to Mr. Thomsett for his years of service.

Any Other Business:  The attention of the meeting was drawn to the date of the next meeting of BVA Council, 20th March, and the meeting of CVS Council the evening before, 29th March, at 7 Mansfield Street.  Mr. Nelson tendered his apologies in advance.

The President then welcomed the speaker, Dr. Frieda Scott-Park, who addressed the meeting on "Is there a future for veterinary associations?"  After a short technical hitch, Dr. Scott-Park outlined a brief curriculum vitae, and pointed out that her background had made her very much in favour of associations.  The inexorable and substantial feminisation of the profession in recent years has inevitably led to substantial changes in working practices, and there must be some platform for members of the profession to make their views known.

These are also changing times for farmers, as Dr. Scott-Park was able to explain from her first-hand experience as a farmer's wife, illustrated with breath-taking scenes of Loch Lomond.  There are no more subsidies, and incomes are so low that there is no money for labour.  Farms are falling into disrepair, with farmers relying on the work of their children and elderly relatives to keep going, and struggling to feed the livestock.  Due to lack of money, veterinary attention is frequently only sought for the very worst cases, usually animals which can't be saved.  If this is a young graduate's first experience of farm work, discouragement soon sets in.  GAEC costs are unaffordable, and health and welfare suffer.  Many farmers in the end find themselves unable to feed both their family and their animals and finally give up.

In this climate Dr. Scott-Park insisted that we must all work together, and form strong associations which take on political matters, education and practice management.  Although some organisations are still a bit of an old boys' club, men are having to learn to work with their female colleagues, and this can only benefit the profession.

The subsequent discussion was perhaps most memorable for a novel attempt to re-define the acronym 'DEFRA', which the Hon. Secretary is much too polite to commit to paper, but which she might reveal discreetly for a small fee.

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