UK FARM LEADERS have rejected the government”s plans to pay compensation for animal diseases on a category basis.

In submissions delivered to DEFRA, the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Executive on Thursday (Dec 23), the NFU, NFU Cymru and NFU Scotland all said there were fundamental problems in the proposals.

Existing measures provide farmers who lose stock to a disease like bovine TB with compensation payments based on individual valuations.

But it has been proposed that compensation payments should be based on a table valuation reflecting the animal”s age, sex, pedigree status and sector.

It has also been said that farmers who have animals with TB, BSE, brucellosis or Enzootic Bovine Leukosis should get the same compensation rate regardless of the disease.

NFU president Tim Bennett, said: “There is a need for review. However, the government”s proposed category system is too narrow. It also does not take into account the differing breed values that exist in the market place.

“The NFU believes it is essential we retain professional valuers in the compensation process, which is still the best approach to ensure accurate valuations.”

NFU Cymru said it had considered the Welsh Assembly”s revised proposals in detail but remained concerned that the review was aimed at mitigating the government”s financial liability for notifiable disease compensation.

market value

This could result in valuations wholly unrepresentative of market value and leave farmers under-compensated in the event of a disease outbreak, it said.

Union president Peredur Hughes added: “The lack of an appeals mechanism is totally unacceptable and leaves the industry with no formal redress for shortcomings in a system of valuation by category.

” David Mitchell, vice president of NFU Scotland, stressed that a significant number of differences in value could exist between categories of stock.

“This is especially important if this system is to be eventually rolled out to all major diseases of all animals. The proposals still fail to recognise the impact that breeding health status, farm assurance status and Scottish nationality can have on value.

“We would urge the executive to draw together a stakeholder group before any changes are brought in. Given the importance of getting this right, the executive should take its time.”