The government is determined to press ahead with plans to make livestock producers share the cost of dealing with animal disease outbreaks.

Producers will have to join an annual fee-based livestock registration scheme under proposals to establish a fighting fund to help pay for disease outbreaks.

In deciding how to implement cost-sharing here, DEFRA has looked at the following schemes which operate overseas:

Denmark

Production-based levies in Denmark are focused on disease prevention rather than controlling outbreaks and any associated compensation.

Levies are collected in accordance with Danish law following recommendations made by the agricultural sector. Some 14% of the money raised is then invested in the prevention and control of animal diseases.

Levies are administered by levy boards for each agricultural sector. Each board includes representatives from the farming sector. Board membership, budgets and accounts are supervised by the Danish ministry of agriculture.

Netherlands

The Netherlands Animal Health Fund was created in the mid-1990s following a deal between the livestock sectors and the government.

In effect, though, it is wholly funded by industry. The Dutch government believes disease control is an integral part of livestock production and so the costs should be borne by farmers.

Money is raised in advance of any outbreak by means of a “peace time” levy. This funds disease surveillance and monitoring. A bank guarantee ensures financial obligations are honoured should the fund be called upon.

Germany

Cost-sharing in Germany is well-developed. In the case of notifiable diseases such as BSE or swine fever, a statutory compensation scheme refunds the value of livestock – as well as subsequent culling and rendering costs.

But costs such as private veterinary fees, cleansing and disinfection and consequential losses are ineligible. The scheme is administered by each province (Länder) and financed equally by the government and industry through a species-specific levy.

Levy rates are fixed annually according to need, and funds raised, including the reserve, are ring-fenced by species.

Spain

Livestock farmers in Spain can insure against animal disease through the Spanish National Agricultural Insurance Agency (ENESA) – a government agency.

The range of insurable risks is set out in an annual agricultural insurance plan. The agency, which includes industry stakeholders, acts as arbiter in all disputes.

Animal disease insurance products are provided by the private sector but are subsidised by the state – by some 37-43% – a level set by the agency. Farmers can take out insurance individually or through a co-operative or professional body.

France

Farm disease standards and disease freedom accreditation in France are set by private groups of farmers. Established in the early 1950s, these groups are recognised in French law as animal health bodies.

The cost of belonging to an animal health body depends on livestock numbers. Compensation funds depend on accumulated contributions.

In the case of foot-and-mouth, the French government pays compensation for animals slaughtered. Consequential losses due to the disease are covered by the animal health groups. But foot-and-mouth is the only disease covered this way.

Ireland

Since 1979, Ireland has operated an animal disease levy system for dairy cattle and cattle slaughtered or exported live.

Money collected is used to contribute towards the compensation costs for the TB and brucellosis eradication schemes. Levy rates are determined on the basis of contributing about 50% towards compensation costs.

The remaining compensation costs, testing, equipment purchases and other costs are paid by the Irish Department of Agriculture and Food, which seeks partial re-imbursement each year from Brussels.

Australia

Cost-sharing for emergency animal disease control was launched in Australia in 2002. Negotiated and signed by the government and industry, the agreement covers new and exotic diseases and some endemic diseases.

Contributions vary according to disease, ranging from disease controls entirely funded by the government, to measures against severe outbreaks of known endemics which are 80% funded by industry.

Ultimate accountability for cost-sharing resides with an Emergency Animal Disease National Management Group which takes decisions on policy and resource allocation issues during a disease outbreak. It includes government and industry representatives.

Source: DEFRA