Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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Views sought on sharing responsibility and costs for animal health and welfare

Views sought on sharing responsibility and costs for animal health and welfare

DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (462/07) issued by The Government News Network on 11 December 2007

Options for sharing responsibility and costs on animal health and welfare policy have been set out in a consultation launched by Defra today.

The consultation seeks views on how the farming industry could be further involved in the decision-making process for animal health and welfare, such as during disease outbreaks, and whether this should be done through existing structures and organisations or new organisational structures.

The consultation also looks at the principles of how the funding for animal health and welfare can be shared between Government and the industry in the future.

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.

"The partnership work involved in tackling the recent Bluetongue outbreak, for example, is an excellent indication of how Government and industry can work together, with industry taking on an active role in managing disease.

"We want to reform the current system so that the industry is central to the decision-making process and contributes to the costs of those decisions in a fair and transparent way."

The consultation responses will be used to help develop detailed proposals on responsibility and cost sharing which will be consulted on in 2008.

The consultation also includes some specific proposals for the withdrawal or reduction of public subsidies for certain measures that concern BSE in cattle and scrapie in sheep.

Notes to Editors

1. The consultation document and more information can be found on the Defra website at
The deadline for responses is 15 April.

2 This consultation covers England only. Defra is engaging closely with other UK Agriculture and Rural Affairs Departments with the aim of developing common policies that recognise the challenges posed by animals and their diseases and movements across administrative borders from livestock enterprises spread across the UK.

3. The Government first started looking at how costs of animal disease outbreaks should be financed following the classical swine fever outbreak in 2000. Dr Iain Anderson's inquiry into the 2001 Foot and Mouth disease outbreak highlighted the need for sharing disease costs with those involved.

4. The first consultation on responsibility and cost sharing was launched on December 2006. A UK Responsibility and Cost Sharing Consultative Forum has also been established, and has influenced the content of this consultation. It includes representatives from across the farming and agricultural industry.

5. Key questions that the document is seeking views on include

a. Developing existing structures - ways in which we can develop sharing of responsibilities by building on existing schemes and good practice, and further involving the industry in the decision making process in the field of animal health and welfare.

b. Sharing costs equitably - the principles for how the funding of animal health and welfare in the future can be shared equitably between Government, all the livestock sectors, and as appropriate, ancillary sectors.

c. Funding mechanisms - new arrangements that would better reflect the balance of the risks, roles and responsibilities of both the public and private sector interests and incentivise the right kinds of behaviour.

d. New structures Possible statutory institutional structures to deliver the changed responsibility and cost sharing arrangements

6. The BSE and scrapie proposals would not affect the controls that protect public health, which will remain firmly in place.

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