Rallying Call for Disease Cost Roadshows Issued

UK - Farmers are being urged to join the NFU for a series of meetings being held across the country as part of its consultation on cost-sharing and responsibility.
calendar icon 23 April 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

The move comes after Defra published its consultation last month, looking to seek payments from farmers to contribute to its budgeted and non-budgeted costs for animal disease. The consultation also proposed a new independent body responsible for animal health.

NFU President Peter Kendall wants Defra to gain a much tighter handle on its own costs before seeking to recoup money from farmers for diseases they have no control over. His opinion has been backed by a recent NAO report which was very critical of Defra. It said that its current procedures could not deliver a 'fair and equitable cost sharing scheme'.

The NFU remains intent on defending its members from additional cost burdens for animal disease particularly as the foot and mouth outbreak in 2007 was traced to government-licensed premises and has already cost the industry £100m in uninsurable losses.

Mr Kendall will kick-off the first round of meetings in the South West on Thursday, 30 April. He said, "Farmers are dismayed by Defra's proposals and many have little confidence in Defra on animal health issues.

"We continue to see bovine TB reaching epidemic proportions in some parts of the country, wiping out nearly 40,000 cattle last year alone, and costing the industry millions. This is on top of the foot and mouth outbreak which left the livestock industry reeling.

"Defra's effective and efficient management of the current Animal Health Budget is seriously lacking and our view is backed by National Audit Office. We must also remember that the costs we are being asked to cover relate to diseases that are not in this country. I do not believe that Defra treats the incursion of these diseases very seriously and certainly nowhere near as seriously as other governments in places like the US, Australia and New Zealand."

The consultation also proposes that a new independent body for animal health should be established. Mr Kendall added: "I believe that a new independent body for animal health could deliver a more proportionate and effective animal health policy. However, it must be a genuine partnership between livestock farmers and the Government and must have real powers and be able to deal with the European Commission on animal health issues. Under the joint Government and industry governance I believe that an independent body should deliver better value for money for the tax payer and for livestock farmers.

"Furthermore, it should enhance the position of the wider industry, food retailers and food manufacturers, who all benefit from keeping this country free from animal disease."

"This round of consultations is really important. The potential implications of Defra's proposals for our members are huge."

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