The NFU has confirmed that it is not engaged in any discussions with DEFRA on livestock disease cost and responsibility sharing.

This follows an announcement yesterday (3 November) that the NFU, along with other livestock organisations, will help set up a new Bovine TB Eradication Group.

The farming union is also keen to progress the development of an independent body to take over animal health issues long-term because it wants to remove politics from the development and delivery of future policy.

In a statement, the NFU said: “We remain fundamentally opposed to cost sharing (or charging) and will not enter into discussions on this issue.

“However, we will challenge and frustrate all attempts by DEFRA to transfer its costs on to the industry.

“Our view is that the industry is already investing heavily in animal health.”

The NFU said it believed there was “significant scope” for DEFRA to reduce costs by reviewing the cost-effectiveness of existing policy.

“We have offered to help them do this through an open-book process in the past and we are still waiting to help DEFRA reduce their costs,” it added.

The Tenant Farmers Association has already pledged to continue with its stance of non-co-operation over cost and responsibility sharing.

It announced last month that it would not negotiate until the government addressed inadequate control of bovine TB.

DEFRA is expected to run a consultation on responsibility and cost sharing from early December through to the end of March 2009.