Defra to consult farmers on disease

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) has urged farmers to contact Defra during its consultation on how future disease outbreaks will be paid for.

The NFU has today warned livestock farmers that the government plans to transfer millions of pounds of the cost of dealing with animal disease outbreaks to the sector and warned the industry was in such a precarious financial position it could not contemplate having further costs imposed on it.

Defra says the consultation will look at the principles of how the funding for animal health and welfare can be shared between government and the industry in the future, and whether existing organisations and structures are sufficient.

Minister for Sustainable Food and Farming and Animal Health, Jeff Rooker said: "It is only right that the industry should have a greater say in how disease is controlled and outbreaks are managed, as they are directly affected by those decisions.

NFU President Peter Kendall said it was vital as many farmers as possible registered their views during the 18-week consultation so Defra was fully aware of the strength of opposition to the plans.

"This is one of the most important issues the industry has had to face for a long time and to suggest this idea now, at a time when we are still picking up the pieces from foot and mouth and bluetongue, is unbelievably insensitive and shows very poor judgement on the Government's behalf. We have a wounded industry at the moment and Defra is just rubbing salt into that wound," he said.

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