The UK’s veterinary sector is overwhelmingly dependent on EU talent with one report finding 75% of abattoir workers are from overseas and up to 90% of veterinarians are EU nationals, writes Olivia Bridge, political correspondent for the Immigration Advice Service.

Since the EU referendum, the veterinary sector has faced ‘significant recruitment difficulties’ which campaigners warn will only be exacerbated by Brexit and its 2021 skills-based immigration vision.

In a bid to quash a widespread workforce shortage, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommended to add veterinary roles to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) in their report this May.

The benefits of being featured on the SOL for vets and supporting staff is that they will enjoy a visa discount, be prioritised a place above other migrants and will have a lower income threshold to be eligible for a Tier 2 Work Visa.

However, featuring vets on the SOL does not necessarily solve the sectors’ problems. Even with a discount, the cost to migrate to the UK after Brexit is prohibitively expensive for most – especially in rural areas – while a lack of homegrown interest to fill essential positions in slaughterhouses doesn’t appear to be picking up. There is no such visa relief offered to these workers either.

What’s worse is that post-Brexit trading agreements could increase the demand for Official Veterinarians by 225%.

While placing vets on the SOL is a step in the right direction, more needs to be done to meet the projected demands of the veterinary sector. The UK’s high standards in animal welfare, farming and ‘just on time’ production of food and drink relies on it.