Diseased Animal Levy Proposal Is Rejected by Farming Groups

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Byline: Karen Dent

FARMING groups have rejected proposals to charge livestock owners an annual fee to help meet the costs of any future outbreaks of "exotic diseases".

The National Beef Association said it has rejected Defra's levy plan "outright" and it hoped its action would encourage other organisations to follow suit.

The NFU also opposes the proposals to impose a charge for every animal when the Government department will not open its own books to show how it is currently spending its budget.

The two groups were responding to Defra's consultation paper issued at the end of March on dealing with the costs of future outbreaks of disease such as foot and mouth or bluetongue.

Defra wants to implement changes in the way such emergencies are handled from 2012.

The NBA said the levy scheme would impose too high a cost on farmers and called on Defra to remove inefficiencies from its pounds 400m annual animal health budget instead.

It also backed the continuation of the current system where farming representatives work with the Government to oversee exotic disease outbreaks, which it says is both cheaper and more effective than the alternatives suggested by Defra. It pointed to the success of this set-up during the 2007 foot-and-mouth outbreak at the Government's Pirbright laboratories. …


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