By FWi staff

FARMERS should be given help to invest in safety systems such as traceability software or electronic tagging, if they insure against the risk of disease, claims an insurance adviser.

Colin Wales, business manager for Q Farms, says that rather than Government paying out when there is a crisis, it should invest in grants for implementing food safety schemes.

“This is proactive rather than reactive, and is a long-term solution. There are traceability systems available but many farmers are reluctant to pay.

“It is more of an incentive for farmers. They would be more willing to invest in insurance if they could see they were getting something for their money.”

However, Douglas Brown, director of Farmers and Mercantile, reckons that such a scheme is fraught with difficulties.

“Any scheme has its merits but it is whether it works in practice that counts. Unless legislation is passed and everyone plays by the rules it wont work.

“The administration and maintenance costs make it very difficult to implement, especially given the desperate financial situation that most farmers are in.”

Mr Brown reckons that the cheapest solution to get farmers to insure against disease is to make it compulsory.

“A levy should be paid on every head of stock slaughtered, that covers all diseases and some consequential losses.

“This would de-couple compensation from the government and put it into the hands of the insurers, who are far better placed to deal with it.”