National animal health policies have at their foundation the overarching need to address society's concerns about animal disease control, the welfare of animals and the safety and security of the animal production food supply. However, in today's global, complex and interdependent context, national animal health policies also impact a broader range of policy outcomes, ranging from public health protection through ecosystem health and biodiversity to the economic well-being and performance of many countries. As a result, there are several fundamentally important elements that must be considered in the elaboration of effective and relevant animal health policies. Policies must be (i) proportionate to the risk to be managed, (ii) transparent (to ensure easy understanding and implementation), and (iii) responsive to constantly evolving and changing hazards and risk pathways. In addition, it is critical that there are sufficient resources and capacity to implement the policies as well as incentives for compliance on the part of affected parties.