DEFRA has published the first of its table valuations for animals compulsorily slaughtered for bovine tuberculosis, brucellosis and enzootic bovine leukosis.
The controversial table valuation system came into effect on Wednesday (1 February) and the figures will be reviewed each month.
From 1 March the valuations will also apply to animals slaughtered for BSE.
The tables assign different values for non-pedigree stock using one month’s previous data and six months’ rolling data for pedigree stock depending on the animal’s age, sex and for female animals whether it has calved.
Presented by DEFRA as a fairer system that offers greater value to the taxpayer, there is no route to appeal a valuation.
DEFRA also hopes the category system will stem the spread of bovine TB by speeding up the removal of infected animals from farms.
Certain categories of animals will still receive an individual valuation for a while longer, but that is only because DEFRA needs to gather more market data to come up with a compensation figure.
Junior DEFRA minister Ben Bradshaw said: “The new compensation arrangements will better protect the taxpayer, by addressing the serious ‘over-compensation’ problem identified by independent reviewers, promote good industry practice, and enhance disease control by facilitating the speedier removal of diseased animals.”
But many farmers are likely to be dismayed by the valuations.
NFU vice-president Meurig Raymond said he was angry with the figures.
“It is an insult to farmers that the value being offered for productive animals, particularly in the beef sector, is below the value for breeding heifers, and well below the prices I had quoted to me at market last week.
“This reinforces the point made by the NFU that table valuations take no account of the intrinsic value of the UK herd.
Table valuations only give an average value of animals sold at market.
Since the best animals never go to market, farmers will never realise the true value of their stock.”
But National Beef Association chairman Duff Burrell was less frustrated.
“We understand why DEFRA has done this. It needs to tighten up its costs. Hence the limited consultation,” he said.
“If, however, DEFRA implements an intensive and effective badger cull to tackle TB than the number of farmers reliant on compensation will fall rapidly.”